A lot of people want to just put the Odom trade and Paul nastiness behind us. But perhaps it pays to think a little bit longer about it. Was there a "cheap" season-shortened championship just waiting to be be snagged by the Lakers if they had kept Odom who was coming off his best year?
With the much shortened season ahead a few things are clear.
1. Continuity and experience will be give a team an edge. No real pre-season, and very little time to practice in season means that teams that are familiar with each other are ahead of others that aren't.
2. Bench minutes will be a huge (perhaps hidden) factor, especially for older teams because there will be back-to-back-to-back games in the crammed schedule.
3. Size, rebounding and passing will matter in sloppy and fatigued play.
Was it the case that there was a cheap championship to be had? Could the Laker front court dominance have gotten into the playoffs and snuck away with a C? To be sure it will be a balance between the advantages that experience gives, and the toll of travel and heavy game action.
Does it make sense to have - thus far - basically traded Odom for athletic Mc Bob and 3 point shooting Murphy? I can see the regular season being largely unaffected - we should make the playoffs either way - but if we were going to grab a cheap championship it seems someone like Odom was irreplaceable.
Odom averaged 32 minutes a game, and actually outplayed (PER) the Heat's "big three" Bosh, earning the 11th best PF PER of the league. He also is one of the best/better defensive PFs out there, and defense wins championships.
- Dallas, our nemesis last year, weakened their front line with the loss of Chandler (we just strengthened it again, with the trade).
- Perkins is looking lean and mean for the Thunder, and Durant is going to be a beast. Don't you think Odom would have helped our frontline there?
- Who is going to run the open floor with the Clipper's Griffin and Jordan? McBob? Gasol? Paul almost took us out last time with nobodies, now he is armed with the most athletic front two in the NBA.
The point isn't so much that the team is worse without Odom, I think everyone agrees with that. It is more raising the question whether there was a championship to grab out there in a short season, before Kobe starts to really show his age.
Maybe Mitch has another end-game in mind now armed with his trade exemption, and if he pulls a bright new Laker future out of the hat he will have entered Jerry West "genius" land. But one can't help but feel that the Lakers had within reach a real shot at a quick championship fighting through a tough short schedule and leveraging the unique window of Bynum finally blossoming into greatness, lots of "winning" experience on the squad, and Kobe not yet over the hill. It was just in that kind of season that it would appear that Odom would have his greatest value.