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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NBA: Lakers pull Odom offer off the table

Broderick Turner
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Lakers have pulled their offer off the table to free-agent forward Lamar Odom, according to a team official who is not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss is upset that Odom and his representative, agent Jeff Schwartz, have not made contact with the organization regarding its $9 million-per season offer for three years, the official said Tuesday.

Odom and his agent have been seeking $10 million per season for five years.

Neither Schwartz nor Odom could be reached for comment. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said, "I wouldn't comment on negotiations."

The source also said Buss was not happy that Odom and Schwartz have been having talks with the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat about a deal but have refused to talk to the Lakers.

The Heat and Mavericks can offer Odom only the mid-level exception of $5.8 million but can give him a five-year deal for as much as $34 million.

It was widely known that Odom, who will be 30 in November, would have to take a pay cut because of his age, the declining economy and the small number of teams that were far enough under the NBA salary cap to make a legitimate offer to him. He was on the Lakers' books for $14.1 million last season, the final year of a six-year, $63 million contract he signed with Miami in 2003.

He proved his worth during the Lakers' championship run in the playoffs by averaging 12.3 points, third-best on the team, and 9.1 rebounds, second-best on the team.

He averaged 32 minutes a game in the playoffs, a lot of it because center Andrew Bynum was either in foul trouble or ineffective. In those cases, Pau Gasol moved to center, Odom came off the bench to play power forward, and the Lakers were often a better team.

Odom was solid against the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals, helping the Lakers win their 15th championship by averaging 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds in Game 5 as the Lakers clinched the title with a 99-86 victory.

Odom was also impressive in the last two games of the Western Conference finals, helping the Lakers emerge from a 2-2 series tie with a physical Denver Nuggets team. Odom averaged 19.5 points and 11 rebounds in the two games.

Known as a friendly face among teammates and always available to talk to reporters, Odom represented an important part of the Lakers' team chemistry.

Odom wasn't thrilled before the season about the prospect of being a reserve, saying last October that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson "must have woke up and bumped his head."

But he grew accustomed to his backup role and helped keep the Lakers atop the West when Bynum went down with a knee injury.

Odom logged 31 games as a starter and saw a dramatic uptick in his statistics after Bynum's injury Jan. 31, averaging 13.9 points and 11.1 rebounds in 34 minutes a game. Before Bynum's injury, Odom was averaging 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in 26.4 minutes.

Staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this story.