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.