I had several conversations today with people close to the Lakers, and asked each about the status of Lamar Odom. Here's what I learned:
--The best deal the Lakers had previously offered Odom was for four years, $36 million. But the fourth year was a team option, that the Lakers had to either exercise, or buy Lamar out for $3 million. That means Odom turned down a guaranteed three year, $30 million contract.
That offer is no longer on the table, nor is any offer from the Lakers. I'm told that if Lamar called the team today and said he would accept these terms, he would most likely be told that the offer is no longer available. Again, this is my opinion based on multiple conversations. I have not spoken directly to Mitch Kupchak or Jerry Buss. If Lamar and Dr. Buss got together over dinner, maybe that original offer could resurface, but I'm told that's highly unlikely.
The common opinion seems to be that the Lakers made Odom an offer that was far above market value, and he turned it down. It's my feeling that the team no longer thinks he's worth a guaranteed $30 million in the current market. Unless somebody has a change of heart, Lamar most likely will have to take less to come back to the Lakers.
We had Jalen Rose on the show Wednesday, and he says that's exactly the way this is likely to play out. Jalen thinks the Lakers won't offer Lamar the original $10 million a year, but he will settle for less and return to LA. Under this scenario, his mistake of not taking the original offer could cost him millions. Of course, if he signs with another team, the most he's likely to get paid is the full mid-level exception of around $6 million a year. Jalen suggested that the new offer would probably be "around seven or eight million."
--By the way, the perception that Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, has been making this worse isn't necessarily true. I've had two different people tell me that Schwartz is a solid agent who has taken every offer seriously, and advised Lamar to do the same. I had one guy who told me, "I'm pretty sure Jeff advised him to take the deal...it's always the client's call."
--I said yesterday that I thought the percentage chance of Lamar returning to the Lakers was 70%. Everybody I talked to today said my number was too high, and "it's more like 50/50." I still think it's more than that, but not much. If I'm Lamar, the Lakers still give me the best chance to win, can pay me the most money, and allow me play in the city where I want to live. I know there are other considerations, but none more important than those three.
In other words, I still think he's coming back, but the situation has changed.