Odom to Miami?

It seems likely that Lamar Odom could sign a five-season deal with the Miami Heat at the mid-level exception ($5.8 million for next season and $34 million or so for the length of the contract) by the end of the week. The Dallas Mavericks also are interested in giving Odom the same deal, but he seems less likely to land in Dallas. Reports out of Miami indicate the Heat are trying to sign Odom and trade for Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz in an attempt to satisfy Dwyane Wade’s demands for a beefed up roster next season.

Odom wants a five-season deal somewhere north of $45 million, which so far the Lakers haven’t offered to him. Talks have ceased for now after owner Jerry Buss took the Lakers’ offers of four years, $36 million or three years, $30 million off the table Monday. It’s certainly possible the Lakers could resume talks with Odom and his agent, but it seems just as possible that Odom could be headed to South Florida soon.

What happens next depends on whether the Jazz decide to match the Portland Trail Blazers’ $32 million offer sheet to forward Paul Millsap, a restricted free agent. Nearly everyone around the league believes Utah will match and keep Millsap by the deadline at week’s end, which could trigger a frantic final round of negotations for Odom’s services..

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Leaving Las Vegas

After spending a few days and nights at the Las Vegas summer league, a few things became perfectly clear. Kinda. Sorta.

First, the Lakers’ decision to pull their offer(s) to Lamar Odom off the table can be viewed as nothing more than a negotiating tactic. But it’s in their best interest to take another run at Odom in the next few days. They’re a championship team with him on the roster, but it’s unclear how good they can be without him. I don’t think this is dead yet. Then again, Odom played one season with Miami after leaving the Clippers as a free agent in 2003 and had one productive season before returning to L.A. in the Shaquille O’Neal trade.

Second, Adam Morrison is doing a great deal to turn his career around while playing with the Lakers’ summer league team. He is averaging a team-leading 20 points through four games. He’s not shooting as well as he would like, but he’s moving well and his surgically-repaired left knee is not giving him any problems. I don’t think he is the answer to the Lakers’ problems if Odom decides to sign elsewhere, however.

Third, there’s no one else on the summer squad who can make the team.

Fourth, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin has a chance to be an impact player in his rookie year.

Fifth, there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I watched all or part of five games over the course of two days and nights and after a while it all blended together and it was difficult to keep straight. Who are all these players? Why are they here? And why are so many people watching them play? Then again, it was 105 degrees outside, but nice and cool inside Thomas and Mack and the adjacent Cox Pavilion.

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Lakers 74, Thunder 68

LAS VEGAS — Adam Morrison scored a team-leading 17 points in the Lakers’ victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center. Morrison made only 5 of 18 shots, but faced strong defensive pressure from Oklahoma City’s Kyle Weaver. James Harden led the Thunder with 23 points. The Lakers are 3-1; OKC is 0-2.

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More Odom

The Lakers’ pursuit of unrestricted free agent Lamar Odom has ground
to a halt, an NBA source said Tuesday afternoon. After raising their
offer to Odom to more than $9 million per season, the Lakers have
pulled the offer from the table because they failed to receive a
response from Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz.
Jerry Buss, the Lakers’ team owner, gave the OK to raise the ante to
more than $9 million from more than $8 million last week. Buss became
upset that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak did not get a yea or
a nay from Schwartz, the source said.
Plus, Buss was said to be miffed that Odom’s representative has
started negotiations with the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat,
neither of whom can offer the versatile forward more than the
mid-level exception ($5.8 million for next season).
It’s been reported that Odom seeks a deal that averages $10 million
per season.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban told a reporter from NBA-TV that he spoke
with Schwartz on Monday. There also have been persistent rumors that
the Heat is interested in Odom, who signed a six-season, $65-million
deal with Miami in 2003.
The Heat dealt Odom to the Lakers in the Shaquille O’Neal trade in
2004.

–Elliott Teaford

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Odom offer taken off the table

Monday Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said that he wasn’t sure the organization and Lamar Odom’s representative were “on the same page.”

Now it looks as if the Lakers offer to the free agent forward has been taken off the table, according to our Elliott Teaford, who is attending the Lakers summer league game in Las Vegas.

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Rambis interests T-Wolves

LAS VEGAS — Here are the first few lines from a story posted at ESPN.com: “The Minnesota Timberwolves’ deliberate coaching search will soon move into its next phase with ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson, Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis and Houston Rockets assistant coach Elston Turner expected to progress to the deciding round of interviews, according to NBA coaching sources.” Rambis previously turned down a job with the Sacramento Kings and did not make the final cut with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Elonu interview

LAS VEGAS — What do you do when you’re picked second-to-last in the NBA draft by the league champions, who have a stacked roster and have nowhere to stash you while they determine whether you’re a decent player? Well, if you’re Chinemelu Elonu, you pack your bags for Vegas, put on your widest grin and try to impress the Lakers. Elonu is a 22-year-old forward/center who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds last season for Texas A&M. If he’s worried about his future with the Lakers, he’s not admitting it publicly.

“Just being drafted by them is exciting,” Elonu said. “Summer league has been a blast, a blessing from God. We (Elonu and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak) haven’t talked much. I’ll just try to hustle and play good defense and rebound and run the offense the right way.

“Oh man, I was with my family and friends watching the draft on TV. I heard the dude call my name and I was numb. I was very overwhelmed. There’s nothing better than to get drafted by the world champions.

“I hope the Lakers invite me to training camp (in October). Mitch told me they look for guys who bust their butts. I’ve only been playing ball for six years now. I still have a long, long ways to go. But I’ll go out there and work on my post moves.”

Elonu was born in Nigeria, but picked up the game when he moved with his family to Texas. He attended high school in Houston and was a fan favorite at Texas A&M.

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A few thoughts on Lamar

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.

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Clippers 93, Lakers 82

LAS VEGAS — Terrific debut for No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin, who beat up on the Lakers during the Clippers’ victory tonight in summer-league play at the Thomas & Mack Center. Griffin had 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting in 29 1/2 minutes. He also made his first eight shots and grabbed 12 rebounds against a Lakers team that wasn’t nearly as talented as the Clippers’ squad. Eric Gordon added 21 points and DeAndre Jordan had 16. Adam Morrison had a fine game for the Lakers, scoring 20 points and taking six rebounds. The Lakers are 2-1 and play the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at 5:30. The Clippers are 1-0 and play the New Orleans Hornets tonight at 7:30.

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Odom appears, says he’s still “hopeful” to return to the Lakers

The negotiations between Lamar Odom’s agent and the Lakers took a turn for the worse Monday afternoon, but it didn’t stop Odom from attending a celebration at the Nokia Theater for the release of the Lakers championship DVD.

Odom was about an hour and a half late, but said he wanted to attend to because “These are my brothers. We have a whole DVD about our season, it just seems surreal. You don’t ever know when or how or if you’re going to experience this again.”

It’s hard to say if it was the traffic on the way to downtown L.A. that was causing the change in mood, but it Odom certainly didn’t seem as calm or cool as he normally does.

Absolutely no one expected the negotiations to take this long and while he clearly wants to return to the Lakers, it was clear the process has worn on him.

“It’s business, you know what I’m saying,” he said. “It takes a little bit of the fun out of the game, but it’s part of it.”

Asked whether he felt at all unloved or unappreciated by the Lakers, Odom paused and said, “Ummm, it’s just the way it is. It’ll pay off.”

He did however acknowledge a bit of disappointment the negotiations haven’t gone as well as he’d hoped.

“It’s crazy because if you think about my career and playing basketball and somebody trying to do all the things to help a team win a championship, I felt like I’ve done that you know,” he said. “But it’ll pay off. It’ll pay off.”

Odom said he’d been laying low since the season ended and had made a point of not negotiating through the media because it was his intention to return to the Lakers and he didn’t want to influence the process taking place between his agent and the Lakers.

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