Is the table being set again?
A week after the Lakers pulled a pair of contract offers to Lamar Odom off the table, the sides resumed talks Wednesday.
The discussions were labeled productive, but there was nothing to report "at the moment," according to a source familiar with negotiations who was not authorized to comment publicly.
It didn't look great last week for Odom's return to the Lakers after the franchise yanked its offers of three years and $30 million or four years and $36 million, with the fourth year only partially guaranteed.
But the sides began communicating in a more positive light Wednesday. Financial details were not immediately available, though the Lakers were not expected to have improved their initial offers. If anything, the offers might have dropped slightly.
Odom, who will be 30 in November, was a key part of the Lakers' championship run, and his teammates, including Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, have unilaterally expressed a desire for his return.
On the other hand, the Lakers are conscious about veering too far into luxury-tax territory. They have already allocated $83.8 million to 12 players next season, which would mean an additional luxury-tax penalty of $13.9 million.
Last season, the Lakers' payroll was $78.2 million and they paid an additional $7.2 million in luxury taxes.
If the Lakers don't get Odom, their options are slim other than a trade. They can sign a veteran forward for about $1 million. They also must decide by Aug. 1 whether to bring back seldom-used guard Sun Yue for $736,000 next season. The Lakers have also considered forward Shelden Williams.
The Lakers have used both spending tools given to teams that are over the salary cap -- the "mid-level exception" of $5.8 million next season was spent on Ron Artest and the "bi-annual exception" of $2 million next season was given to reserve guard Shannon Brown, who re-signed with the team for two years and $4.2 million.
Odom was on the Lakers' books for $14.1 million last season, but will obviously have to take a pay cut. The Miami Heat has expressed interest in him, though the cap-strapped team could offer only a mid-level deal worth $34 million.
The Lakers took their offers to Odom off the table last week after learning he was engaging in discussions with the Heat.
The Lakers will wait until the Odom situation is resolved before signing Bryant to a contract extension.
Bryant will get $23 million next season and is expected to receive an extension on top of it that would pay him $134 million to $138 million over the next five seasons, depending on salary-cap figures to be determined in July 2011. Bryant will be 31 next month.