Lakers will not pick up option on Sun Yue

The Lakers have decided not to pick up their option on guard Sun Yue, according to his agent Charles Bonsignore.

The team was intrigued by the 6-foot-9 point guard from China, but due to its already-stiff luxury tax burden, and the depth on the team’s roster, both sides agreed it would be in their best interest to let Sun go and pursue other opportunities in the NBA.

“We really appreciated the opportunity the Lakers gave Sun and the way they approached the entire situation,” Bonsignore said. “They were all class. But because of the depth on their roster, we both knew that even if he made the team there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunity to play. And the Lakers didn’t want to hold him back.”

Sun appeared in just 10 games for the Lakers as a rookie, but the coaching staff was said to be intrigued with his potential. On a team that won the NBA championship, with three other point guards on the roster, there wasn’t a lot of playing time to go around.

Bonsignore said he expects that Sun will find another opportunity in the NBA this year.

“He’s an NBA player,” he said.

The Lakers had until today to decide whether to invite Sun to training camp. Doing so would’ve guaranteed $100,000 of his $736,420 salary for next season. The rest of the salary would’ve become guaranteed had he made the opening-day roster.

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Odom: UPDATED

It’s a good thing July is one of those months with 31 days in it.

Finally, mercifully and somewhat predictably, the protracted negotiations between the Lakers and free-agent forward Lamar Odom came to a happy conclusion Thursday afternoon, before the calendar flipped to another month.

Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed that the team had agreed in principle with the free agent power forward who averaged 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds during the post-season, as the Lakers won their 15th NBA title.

That was June 14. Odom became an unrestricted free agent at midnight on July 1st.

It took nearly all of July for the two sides to come to terms on a contract a source with knowledge of the negotiations said was worth between $32-33 million over four seasons, with the first $27 million and three seasons guaranteed.

“We’ve said from the end of the season when we had exit interviews that signing Lamar was a priority of ours,” Black said. “The process took 30 days. It was a long and arduous process, but all’s well that ends well. We’re very happy to have him back.”

Black could not comment on the specifics of the deal. Odom’s agent Jeff Schwartz did not return messages left on his cell phone.

Odom revealed a little of his sentiments via his Twitter feed late Thursday afternoon: “I’M BAAAAAACK!!!!,” Odom wrote.

Fans that had nervously followed the negotiations the past month — as Odom toyed with the idea of returning to the Miami Heat — flocked to the popular social networking site.

The word “Odom” became one of the top trending topics on the site. A fact that did not go unnoticed by Odom.

“Phone is going crazy but I think my friends are more excited about me being a top trending topic,” he tweeted.

Odom made $11.4 million last season, but said at the end of the season he was willing to take a pay cut to remain with the Lakers.
Still, negotiations between the team and Odom did not go smoothly. Two weeks ago, he did not respond to the team’s offers of three years and $30 million or four years and $36 million. The fourth year of that deal was a team-option.
Frustrated, the Lakers pulled both offers and were prepared to walk away.
The team is well over the dollar-for-dollar luxury-tax threshold of $69.92 million with approximately $91.7 million committed for next season. That figure can be cut to $90.9 million if the team does not invite guard Sun Yue back before Friday’s deadline.
With the luxury-tax penalty of either $21.8 million (with Yue) or $21 million (without Yue), the Lakers’ payroll would be approximately $113.4 million or $112 million.
That was a tremendously difficult financial pill for Lakers owner Jerry Buss to swallow. For days he wondered whether it was better to just let Odom leave and see if newly-acquired Ron Artest and a healthy Andrew Bynum could fill the void.
In the end, Buss’ competitive nature won out. With Odom the Lakers are a heavy favorite to repeat as champions. Without him, they are vulnerable.
Other contenders have added key pieces this offseason. Boston signed power forward Rasheed Wallace. Cleveland traded for Shaquille O’Neal. Orlando traded for Vince Carter and the San Antonio Spurs traded for Richard Jefferson.
A source close to Odom said he had an emotional reaction to the Lakers’ initial stance and seriously considered the Miami Heat’s five-year, $34 million offer.
His agent Jeff Schwartz encouraged him to keep emotion out of the decision and consider the financial picture the Lakers faced, as well as bleak predictions for the the league economy.
Odom reached out to Buss, during the Lakers’ owner’s vacation Hawaii to try and smooth things out, which went a long way, a source said.
Still, it took another two weeks for the sides to come to terms.
As of late Thursday night, Odom had not officially signed his new contract. He is expected to do so sometime this morning.
Now that Odom has been retained, the Lakers are expected to begin contract extension talks with Kobe Bryant.

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Report: Odom and Lakers agree on 4-year deal

By Ramona Shelburne
Staff Writer

The Lakers and free agent forward Lamar Odom have agreed on a four-year deal, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said Thursday afternoon.

The fourth year of the contract is the team’s option. ESPN.com reported that the contract is worth $33 million over four years. However the source said that figure is a bit high.

Odom’s agent Jeff Schwartz did not return messages left on his cell phone. Lakers officials refused to comment on the matter.

The 6-foot-10 power forward was a key part of the team’s championship run. He averaged 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in the playoffs, while coming off the bench.

Odom made $11.4 million last season, but was quoted as saying he was willing to take a pay cut. Still, negotiations between the team and Odom did not go smoothly. Two weeks ago, he did not respond to the team’s offers of three years and $30 million or four years and $36 million.

Another source close to Odom said that Schwartz had advised his client to accept one of those offers. Instead he spent two weeks negotiating with the Miami Heat, who could offer no more than a five-year, $34 million contract, because of salary cap restrictions.

The Lakers and Odom’s representatives stayed in contact throughout the process, but it became clear the team’s offer would decrease, not increase the longer the process went on.

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Odom watch: Tuesday night

Hear that? No, don’t turn the volume on your computer up. It’s just in the air.

Crickets.

Loud, persistent crickets.

As the world turns … As Lamar Odom watch continues into its 29th day.

I called up Lakers spokesman John Black this afternoon just to get an on-the-record quote of the day. In the offseason, few sources are willing to speak on the record except for guys like Black, who are paid to do just that.

We both had a hearty laugh when I asked if he had any updates today.

“There’s absolutely nothing new I can tell you on that,” Black said.

Well, can you tell me if the Lakers and Odom’s camp have continued to talk?

“Yes,” he said. “They’ve been talking on a regular basis. That’s all I can say.”

And there, ladies and gentleman, is your daily Lamar Odom update. Officially speaking.

I should mention that Dwyane Wade posted a photo of Odom in a Heat uniform on his twitter feed with the accompanying comment : “the beginning..look who’s jersey is waitn for them in mia(no 7)”

And that Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald has a pretty good summation of things from a South Florida perspective.

But at this point, most of what you read is just speculation based on conversations with team and league sources that are speculating to varying degrees. Really, the only person who knows what’s going to happen is Odom himself, once all the facts are in front of him and all possibilities have been exhausted.

Odom has made no public comments since July 13.

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Odom watch: Monday night

There have been rumblings the summertime series known as the Lamar Odom contract negotiations is nearing a conclusion.

Rumblings.

After the way this thing has played out since July 1st, I’m tired of rumblings. But these do have a shred of truth to them, based on conversations I’ve had in the past couple of days.

CBS 2′s Jill Hill reported this afternoon that Odom will meet with Miami Heat president Pat Riley and superstar guard Dwyane Wade tonight.

Wade has been publicly campaigning for Odom to return to South Florida via his Twitter feed for weeks.

As we mentioned a couple of nights ago, Riley has a home in L.A., so it wasn’t clear if he was coming out West to meet with Odom or just to spend some time in his former haunts.

I still believe, based on recent conversations I’ve had with people who haven’t taken the vow of radio silence some of the principals in the negotiations have, that Odom will be back with L.A.

The Miami gambit is merely his best leverage at getting the Lakers to sweeten their offer. But financially, he can still make the most with the Lakers.

Earlier today, I spoke with a league source who said Odom may be toying with the idea of signing with Miami and testing free agency again in three years. If he thinks he can get a new contract after that third year, for more money, the financial picture starts to match up better.

With the way the league’s finances are going though, and the fact Odom will be 32 in three years, I can’t see him getting a better offer later. Which makes that idea a huge gamble.

The only other reason I can see Odom bolting is if he’s emotionally disappointed by how the Lakers handled the process. If he’s hurt they didn’t give him what he asked for, and merely likes the public courting the Heat have done.

Odom is a loyal guy, and an emotional guy, so it’s hard to know his state of mind. But he’s also a businessman, who has been successful in several different fields. I think that wins out in the end.

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Lakers add preseason game

The Los Angeles Lakers announced today that an additional game has been added to their preseason schedule. The Lakers will host the Golden State Warriors at 7:00pm on October 9 at the Forum in Inglewood, CA.

As part of the Lakers 50th Anniversary in Los Angeles, fans will get an opportunity to see the 2009 NBA Champions play in the arena which was home to the Lakers for over 30 years (1967-1999) and was the site of six NBA Championships (1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988).

Tickets for the game will go on sale at 10:00 am on Wednesday, August 12. Tickets will be sold at Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com, and available by phone at 1-800-4-NBA-TIXS. Tickets are priced at $13, $24, $34, $40, $58, $85.50, $103 and $133.

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And now back to the Odom watch

When I left town on Wednesday I had a strong feeling the Odom situation would be resolved by the time I got back Saturday afternoon. Just a feeling.

Much like the first few rounds of the Lakers playoff run, I no longer will be having any hunches, predictions or feelings about the L.O. situation until it’s finally settled.

Mostly this process has been like listening to an endless loop of “nature sounds and crickets” on one of those noise machines that help you sleep, interrupted by flurries of activity at unpredictable moments.

Saturday’s main developments included a pitch from Miami frontman Dwyane Wade via his Twitter feed which (unlike the bogus Kobe Bryant twitters that have caused some buzz this week, is actually a verified account): “This is for Lamar Odom…come back to where it started for the both of us..the franchise u help build back up wants u to End it all here.”

That preceded by a couple of hours a report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Odom was “leaning strongly toward accepting” the Heat’s five-year, $34 million offer and leaving the Lakers.

Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel (Fla.) has a nice breakdown of the situation from a South Florida perspective, but doesn’t go out on as long of a limb as Woj.

At this stage in the search though, everyone would be better off hiring `The Mentalist’ or bringing Gil Grissom out of retirement to figure out how this is all going to turn out. Theories and facts change from day to day.

Will Dwyane Wade’s pleas work?

Does Odom just want to feel wanted?

Does the fact that Heat president Pat Riley was heading for Los Angeles mean anything? Or was Riley just heading home?

Odom mentioned during the Finals that he likes humidity… does that mean he likes South Florida better than L.A.?

As you can tell, this whole saga has been dragged out so long even us sportswriters are at a loss for words.

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Rambis will interview with T-Wolves early next week

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Lamar Odom programming for a brief update on Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis’ advancement in the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching search.

According to a source close to the situation, Rambis will have his second interview with the T-Wolves early next week.

As previously reported, Rambis is one of four known finalists in the search.

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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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