Odom to wait and see

Times Staff Writer

Lakers forward Lamar Odom will wait two to three weeks before choosing from three options in his road to recovery from a torn labrum in his shooting shoulder.

He could try to play again, undergo season-ending surgery on the left shoulder or wait another couple of weeks on top of the next two or three to see whether there is further progress.

The regular season ends April 18 for the Lakers, six weeks from Wednesday.


Odom’s visit Monday in Los Angeles with shoulder specialist Lewis Yocum confirmed the presence of a torn labrum that appeared in an MRI exam Saturday. Odom will now undergo therapy on the shoulder to see how it reacts, with important considerations over the next few weeks including the range of motion, strength and level of pain in his shoulder.

Odom, 27, had the same injury in the same shoulder two years ago and sat out the Lakers’ last 17 games of the 2004-05 season. He ultimately had surgery that required a four-month recovery.

“If I remember right, they weren’t going to playoffs that year, is that right?” Coach Phil Jackson said. “That’s a big difference, if you want to have an opportunity to be in the playoffs and play. Can we stay afloat, get through there to the playoffs and get Lamar back to a certain sense of health? That’s a big part of it.”

Reading between Jackson’s words: If Odom decides to play, he might not be back at reasonable strength until the very end of the regular season, if not the playoffs, assuming the Lakers make it that far.

Ultimately, it will be Odom’s decision whether to undergo surgery. Even if he tries to play through the injury, he probably will need surgery during the off-season, although there is a remote chance he could play next season without having a procedure to repair the labrum.

He was injured Friday after being fouled by Sacramento center Brad Miller while attempting a shot late in the Lakers’ 116-108 loss to the Kings.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Odom, who had finally regained his inspired early-season form after 15 mediocre games since returning from a sprained knee. In his last two games, he averaged 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

“It’s not about guts and all that type of stuff, or courage. It’s about you making an educated decision,” Kobe Bryant said. “If it’s something that you can do, in terms of playing with the pain or playing through the pain to a point where it won’t make the situation worse, then that’s something you consider. But if the experts are telling you something differently, then it doesn’t make any sense to do it.”

The experts, for now, are saying he can take a wait-and-see approach.


Odom wasn’t the only member of the Lakers to see a specialist Monday in Los Angeles.

Forward Luke Walton, who has sat out 17 games because of a sprained right ankle, saw ankle specialist David Thordarson, and was diagnosed with ankle tendinitis that has become more of a problem than the sprain itself.

Walton will not join the team for the final three games of its trip and will be reevaluated early next week.

For the near future, the shortage of forwards means more minutes for Brian Cook, whose playing time has been up and down all season. He can expect to log more than 30 minutes per outing if he can come close to matching his 22-point, 14-rebound effort Sunday against Phoenix.

“I’ve played 30 minutes, 15, 10 minutes,” Cook said. “I’m just going to go out there and try to take advantage of it like I always have.”


A day later, Smush Parker was still simmering.

Parker struggled defensively Sunday against Phoenix guard Steve Nash, was pulled from the game midway through the fourth quarter and never reentered after exchanging words with Jackson in front of the Lakers’ bench.

Parker sat sullenly at the end of the bench the rest of the way, even during timeouts, as Shammond Williams finished the game for him. Parker didn’t talk to reporters Sunday but was asked Monday whether he thought he and Jackson were now on the same page.

“You could say that, if you want,” he said. “I don’t like losing. The coach made his decision. He thought he made the right decision with the five guys he had out there to try to win the game.”

Said Jackson: “We’d like Smush to come back and get some consistency in his game. I don’t know what part is consistent yet.”


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Records -- Lakers 33-27, Timberwolves 26-33.

Record vs. Timberwolves -- 2-0.

Update -- The Timberwolves have lost three consecutive games and are 11th in the Western Conference.