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After Lamar Odom, the Lakers' options aren't pretty

There are players available, but the best ones are probably too expensive and they can't match the versatility of Odom, who is talking to the Heat.

July 16, 2009|Broderick Turner

So where will the Lakers turn to now that they have pulled the deals they offered to Lamar Odom off the table?

The pickings left on the free-agent heap are slim, and were made even more difficult for the Lakers because they have exhausted their best spending tools.

They used the mid-level exception of $5.8 million on Ron Artest and the "bi-annual exception" of $1.99 million on Shannon Brown. All they have left at their disposal to sign a player is the veteran's minimum annual salary because they are over the salary cap.

The veteran's minimum is a sliding scale, starting at $457,588 for a rookie and going up to as much as $1.306 million for a veteran with 10 or more years of experience.

Then the issue becomes whether an unrestricted free agent will take less money from the Lakers because they are the NBA champions who have a chance to repeat and they play in Los Angeles.

The Lakers could do a sign-and-trade for Odom, or trade another player to get a quality player.

The Lakers probably will look for a big man, someone who can play backup power forward and center.

Players such as Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith and Drew Gooden fit that mold and are still available, but probably will get the mid-level exception or a portion of it.

Stromile Swift, Sean May, Jarron Collins, Sheldon Williams, Mikki Moore, Ike Diogu, Tim Thomas, Juwan Howard and former Laker Chris Mihm could be possibilities for the Lakers.

But none of those names has the versatility of Odom.

The Lakers offered deals of four years at $9 million a season for a total of $36 million or three years at $10 million for a total of $30 million to Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz. But after not getting a response, Lakers owner Jerry Buss pulled the deals off the table.

Odom has been talking to the Miami Heat about signing the mid-level exception of $5.8 million, which would adjust to five years for $34 million. On Wednesday, teammate Kobe Bryant called Odom to find out how negotiations with the team were going.

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

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