Lamar Odom's Return to Lakers Would Help L.A. Stay Relevant in 2013-14

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJuly 10, 2013

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Clippers warms up prior to facing the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center on March 7, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 107-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Lamar Odom has been looking for the destination to continue his NBA career, and his potential return to the Los Angeles Lakers would be a big step for both Odom and the Lakers organization. 

The 33-year-old has been reached out to by L.A., but as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN noted, it's unclear how likely a deal would be between the two sides:

After the Lakers signed 2010 All-Star Chris Kaman to play a similar position to Odom's, it seemed as if that could be a roadblock to Odom's return to Staples Center. But Shelburne took back to Twitter to break down where the interest level was.

Odom won two championships with the Lakers, but has since had stints with the Dallas Mavericks and came back to L.A. to play with the Clippers for a second tenure there. 

Re-signing with the Clippers hasn't been ruled out, and Doc Rivers' squad is still interested in Odom according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

But after Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Clips are looking at Antawn Jamison and Jared Dudley arriving in a big three-team trade, per ESPN, a move back to the Lakers would make perfect sense for Odom and the struggling purple and gold. 

Odom was a formidable starter and sixth man for the Lakers from 2004-11, averaging at least 14 points per game in five seasons there. He also had success cleaning up the boards, averaging at least eight rebounds per game each of his seven Laker seasons.

He hasn't been able to get close to that level of production since his messy departure from L.A. in 2011, averaging about five points per game in two seasons with the Mavs and Clippers. His minutes played have also sharply decreased, from consistent 30-40 minutes with the Lakers to 20 minutes in his last two seasons.

Simply put, the Lakers have given Odom more continuity and stability than he's had elsewhere in the league. I know things weren't ideal surrounding his leaving L.A., but he needs to realize how big of an opportunity he'd have with the new-look Lakers.

Kobe Bryant will have to sit out with his Achilles injury, and they're looking for playmakers in the wake of Dwight Howard's decision to join the Rockets. Having formidable scorers and players who can contend on both ends of the floor was a big issue for the Lakers last year, and it's one that Odom could immediately be a factor in.

Of course, Odom isn't the same player that he was earlier in his playing career when he was nearly elite, but that makes the fit even better. See, Kaman and Pau Gasol are your starting frontcourt, and Odom will have to essentially be their compliments.

Obviously, Odom will be able to see near-starter's minutes with time at the wing position and filling in duties at the four. But he'll be able to embrace that sixth-man role this time around without having to worry about starting every game.

He's no longer in his prime, but Odom has plenty of suitors for a reason. When both L.A. teams want you, it says a lot about your ability to contribute to a championship-caiber squad.

The Lakers are a few pieces away from competing for the Western Conference, but are also a few unmet needs away from competing for a lottery pick.

If Steve Nash stays healthy, Kobe returns with flair and the role players settle in around Kaman and Gasol, this could be a team that really turns around the ship. But a lot of that will depend on who they're able to bring in throughout the rest of the offseason.

Kaman was the start, but Odom is a necessary and potentially huge move in this free-agency cycle for the Los Angeles Lakers.