Question: The Lakers seem to be in position to make a choice with Lamar Odom: Get something of value while he still has value.
I personally love this team when Andrew Bynum gets back, but I also think with my heart and don't appreciate the business side.
Surely Lakers executives will give this unit a chance, won't they? Or does Odom have to go?
-- Brian Stutchman, Willard, Ohio
Answer: I will be surprised if the Lakers make another trade before the Feb. 21 deadline. In a head count of the Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza trades, the Lakers have sent out four players and taken back two new ones since the season began. That's already a lot of activity. At what point would team chemistry be affected by adding and subtracting more players?
As for Odom, I don't see him moving before the trade deadline, although the Lakers might dangle him this summer if they fail to advance far enough in the playoffs.
Odom has one more year on his contract for $14.1 million. In essence, he holds an even greater financial value next season than Kwame Brown did this season. Odom's expiring contract will be worth $5 million more next season than Brown's contract was, giving potential trade partners an even greater opportunity to shed future salary.
Not to mention that Odom is a more well-rounded player than Brown. And he can catch the ball.
At any rate, Odom's future with the Lakers appears to be secure for the short term, but he's one of the first to go if there's a quick playoff exit.
Q: What is the real impact of Pau Gasol? Will the Lakers now be able to fight with teams like San Antonio, Dallas or Phoenix in the Western Conference? And what is the feeling in the city of Pau's arrival?
-- Jon Cuesta, Extremadura, Spain
A: On the surface, there's obviously a lot for Lakers fans to like about the trade.
Gasol was an All-Star two years ago. He didn't cost much. He's only 27.
I think he will be fine in the short term, but the real key will be how he coexists when Andrew Bynum returns from a knee injury.
Is the middle too clogged with the two of them or does Gasol pass well enough to avoid clutter?
Will everybody be satisfied with his playing time and touches?
And the trickle-down effect: Can Odom stick with 6-foot-7 players on defense when he shifts to small forward to make room for Gasol at power forward?
People can make educated guesses about all of the above, but nobody really knows for sure until Bynum, Gasol and Odom finally play together.
If the answers are favorable, it's safe to say the Lakers will finally get past the first round -- and then some.
As for the feeling in the city, Gasol told the story of a whirlwind few hours in Los Angeles when he arrived last Saturday for a physical. He was asked to sign autographs and pose for pictures at LAX. Then he was cheered while getting lunch at a nearby burger restaurant.
Based on e-mails from scores of readers, I'd say the city is pretty excited, but I haven't experienced it firsthand. I haven't been home since Jan. 30 because of the nine-game road trip.
Q: Since I've been a hater lately, I should probably give some credit where credit is due. The Gasol move was pretty strong on Mitch's part.
Kupchak, the third-most important Laker (Kobe and Phil being Nos. 1 and 2), is now "playing" well. That's good, since we'll need him for the playoffs.
-- Michael Weigand, Georgetown, Texas
A: Wow, does Mitch know he's suiting up for the playoffs? It's been a few years since he last played....
At any rate, if the contents of my e-mail from readers were analyzed over the four seasons I've covered the Lakers, Kobe Bryant would be the top topic by a large margin.
Kupchak would be No. 2, with a high majority of the e-mails falling in the negative category.
But his move back in November to get Trevor Ariza was an indicator he was willing to shake up the locker room. And his move to get Gasol is being hailed around the league as an absolute steal.
There are two small things in the trade that were clever wrinkles.
Kupchak plucked Aaron McKie out of retirement, signed him for $750,000, and traded him to make the exchanged salaries equitable in the deal with Memphis. It was a prime example of thinking outside the box of the rigid NBA trade rules.
Kupchak also got back a second-round draft pick in 2010. The Lakers owe the Grizzlies their first-round draft pick that year -- probably somewhere in the mid-to-high 20s -- but the Grizzlies' second-rounder won't be that bad, probably in the low 30s. In a perfect Lakers world, they give the Grizzlies the 30th pick and get back the 31st pick. (It's risky to look ahead two years, but that's what happens sometimes in the Q&A.)
Basically, in a long-winded way, I'm saying Kupchak was creative and decisive in the Gasol trade.
And an uptick in positive e-mails about him has followed.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun