Back in his first season with the Lakers, Lamar Odom offered a four-word answer to our questions about what position he was best suited to play. It was one of those great moments when an athlete talks about himself in the third person.
“Odom is a player,” he said.
That sums up his perspective but does nothing to end the debate about whether he is a small forward, power forward or a point guard in a 6-foot-10 body. In the new NBA, Odom might even be a center, which is something the Lakers will have to consider with Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm out.
According to the Web site 82games.com, Odom played 44 percent of the Lakers’ minutes at power forward last season, 34 percent of their minutes at small forward and 2 percent of their minutes at center. Odom was most productive as a power forward and least productive as a center.
By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–Even before learning that Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm would be out to start the season, the Lakers had been considering playing Lamar Odom at times as a center in a small lineup.
“We see the versatility of our team that we could put a lineup out there thats almost the same size, Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said, “where we can do a lot of switching, where we can do a lot of getting into our offense not caring who went to what spot, not caring whos bringing the ball up because they could all do it.
The Lakers had the option of using just such a lineup in Fridays exhibition game against New Orleans. The Hornets were playing without Tyson Chandler, who missed the game with a sprained ankle, and started 6-foot-9 forward David West at center.
Instead, Rambis decided to start Andrew Bynum, saying that getting the teenage center experience with Brown and Mihm out was the Lakers biggest immediate concern.
However, the Lakers will consider using Odom at center, especially as their Western Conference counterparts continue to follow the Phoenix Suns lead in going small and smaller.
As one example, Troy Murphy will move from power forward to center with Golden State this season. The Suns advanced to the conference finals last season with Boris Diaw, a converted guard, starting at center.
“It depends on the matchups, Odom said. “A lot of times right now, youve got a lot of these teams that are going smaller. Against them, probably so. Against a natural 7-foot, 270-pound center, probably not.
As one of the leagues most versatile players, Odom is at his best playing to mismatches on the floor. He handles the ball well enough that the Lakers had him initiate the triangle offense from the backcourt last season and lead the fast break.
With so many injuries this preseason, the Lakers have had Odom playing as a forward on the wing. He finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists Friday; Rambis liked seeing him attack the basket with a “head of steam on a couple of plays.
Odom said having a center who can handle the ball does wonders by dragging a big man away from the basket and opening up the floor.
“Its kind of the perfect attribute to have when youre playing center, Odom said.
In the meantime, Odom is trying to regain his timing and conditioning after a summer away from basketball following the death of his infant son. Odom said he weighs 245 pounds and would like to get down to a “strong 235 heading into the season.
No Kobe: The Lakers said Kobe Bryant would not play in tonights exhibition game against Phoenix in San Diego. That leaves one exhibition game – - Thursday in Anaheim – - for Bryant to test his right knee before the start of the season Oct. 31.
Odom was asked if the Lakers needed to play a game with Bryant before the season, just to get everybody on the same page. His answer: “I think when (Bryant) comes back everybody kind of knows what page to be on.
The Lakers will get guard Sasha Vujacic back from a sprained ankle. Forward Vladimir Radmanovic (hand injury) and guard Shammond Williams (abdominal strain) wont play tonight.