When Lakers fans think about how their team fell into a downward spiral during the 2010s, it generally starts with “The Veto” — when Los Angeles attempted to acquire Chris Paul in a three-way trade that would have sent Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to Houston and New Orleans, respectively.
The trade didn’t go through, but the ramifications of it have been felt by the franchise for years, and by the players involved. Gasol remained a Laker, but was constantly in trade rumors and had his role yanked around by Mike D’Antoni. Odom, in particular, was inconsolable about being dealt by the team where had won two titles and a Sixth Man of the Year Award. Even though the Paul trade didn’t happen, Odom was moved almost immediately afterward to Dallas, as he and the Lakers seemingly couldn’t find a way to repair their relationship.
Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times spoke to Odom at the Big3 Draft, where he is attempting to revive his basketball career as co-captain of Enemies this summer. The pain of being dumped by the Lakers still appears to resonate with Odom.
“That hurt,” Odom says. “I love that team. I love the people who own that team. That trade hurt me. I was never the same after that. I think back to where I was at in my life. My cousin had just been killed and the team knew about that and where I was at after the loss of my son.
“I’m not going to say that should have protected me but I was coming off a Sixth Man of the Year winning season. I couldn’t believe they would just trade me like that. It hurt.”
Despite coming off of the best individual season of his career, Odom was wholly ineffective for the Mavericks in 2011-12. He never really fit in with the then-defending champions and was dismissed from the team before the postseason. The Dallas players even opted to exclude Odom from the team’s playoff share.
Odom played one final NBA season in Los Angeles, but for the Clippers as a bit bench player, before his life really took a turn for the worse.
The Lakers have also never been the same since moving on from Odom. They made the playoffs in the first season after trading him, winning the first round against the Denver Nuggets (which happens to be the most recent playoff series win for the franchise) before bowing out in five games to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The next year was the failed superteam with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash that featured the team’s last postseason appearance, but with Kobe Bryant watching from home with a torn Achilles.
In Markazi’s piece, Odom’s close friend Anthony McNair said that he believes the trade was a “turning point” for both the team and his friend.
“They lost their backbone when they lost Lamar,” McNair says. “He was the foundation; the heart and soul of that team. For them to trade him the way they did was bad. They didn’t even tell [head coach] Mike Brown. Mike was calling my phone, asking why Lamar wasn’t at practice and I said we were in the car on the way to take a physical after the trade. He didn’t know about it.
“That was the downfall for Lamar. That hit him hard. He was depressed in Dallas and was never the same.”
Fortunately, Odom has recovered from his near-death experience and has been present for Lakers games in Los Angeles since, including Bryant’s last game in 2016, where he appeared to have reconciled with Jeanie Buss. Hopefully, Odom can find some peace with that decision and ball out this summer in the Big 3.