I’ve had a few hours to process the strange turn of events that took place in negotiations between the Lakers and Lamar Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz on Monday.
I first got wind of the foul winds blowing in the air around 6 p.m., when I got a text message from Las Vegas, right after Mitch Kupchak arrived for the Lakers summer-league game vs. the Clippers.
After weeks of saying he was “hopeful” he could bring Odom back and indicating Friday that the talks appeared headed to a successful resolution sometime this week, Kupchak looked spent.
The negotiations with Schwartz had not gone well on Monday and Kupchak acknowledged for the first time that he could see a scenario in which the talented 6-foot-10 forward is not back with the team next season.
When asked if he was at a point of throwing up his hands, Kupchak said, “Perhaps.”
Just a few days ago, sources on both sides of the negotiations said they thought a deal could come as soon as early this week. Kupchak was so confident in the deal’s ultimate resolution, he noted in a radio interview that “there is no replacement for Lamar Odom.”
Back in Los Angeles, Odom was running late to the premier of the Lakers championship DVD at LA Live. Players were due to arrive between 6-7 p.m.. Around 7, organizers got a call saying Odom wasn’t going to make it.
Around 7:30 though, Odom showed up, apologizing for being late but clearly interested in visiting with teammates and checking out the DVD.
To his credit, he didn’t duck the media that stuck around even though there clearly wasn’t much good news to report on this day.
When I joked that we all thought he was going to bail on the premier because of the negotiations, he laughed and said, “Well then it’s a good thing I showed up.”
He clearly did not want to drive any wedge between himself and the organization. Several times he simply pointed to the footage of the championship season when asked if he felt unappreciated or regretted coming off the bench last season.
“I mean, we won a championship,” he said. “This is what it’s all about.”
Odom has enjoyed his time with the Lakers organization and genuinely wants to stay with the Lakers, which is why he and his representative have been so quiet and lowkey during the protracted negotiations.
Still, this is a business and at age 29 with 30 on the horizon later this year, Odom realizes this is likely the last long-term contract he will be able to sign.