Thursday, October 09, 2008

Phil's mind games

Apparently Phil Jackson was not impressed with Lamar Odom’s effort in the first exhibition game:

"I just got through telling him that this is really basketball now. He looks like he's either curling or doing some other kind of sport. He's not playing basketball. The first shot he took was a three-pointer in the middle of the third quarter? That was pretty interesting. We still have some time to go with this. We'll see how it goes."

Yes, children, he referenced curling.

My theory is still that Jackson wants Lamar to be the sixth man and thus the whole “point-forward" thing serves the combined purpose of setting Lamar up to fail with the first team while letting him play the initiator role he would share with Farmar should he end up on the second unit. Do you really think the ball is not going to be in Kobe’s hands early in most possessions?

And it should be added that the whole thing may be less of an issue than it might first seem, although there is obviously Lamar's ego and contract situation (he will be auditioning for his next contract all season) to manage. But if Bynum plays 32 minutes and Pau 34, for example, that still leaves 30 minutes at the 4 available for somebody in support of whichever of them is the center in a given lineup. Josh Powell can grab a few of those with rebounding and energy, but it's not like Lamar will have to play all night on the wing in any configuration, even on a healthy roster.

I don't blame Lamar for wanting to start; next summer is the last shot he will have at a good-sized payday. But if he stepped back a bit he might see that he would score and rebound more off the bench, which could be a win-win for him personally as well as for the team.

In any case, how Lamar fits on this team and whether he stays on it all year will likely be the most interesting facet of what shapes up to be a fascinating season. One way or the other, his huge expiring contract (cap figure $14,148,596) will make him the subject of countless trade rumors between now and February.

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