Odom wants to finish his career where he is

Times Staff Writer

HONOLULU -- Lamar Odom’s name was spit-balled around the Lakers’ office, and many others in the league, in trade talks throughout the off-season.

Maybe he was on his way to Indiana in a four-team deal that would deliver Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles. Maybe he was heading to the Pacers for Jermaine O’Neal. More recently, perhaps he was going to Phoenix for Shawn Marion.

Instead, come Monday morning, he found himself with the Lakers for another season, his fourth since coming over from Miami in the Shaquille O’Neal trade.

Odom will miss most, if not all, of the exhibition season as he recovers from mid-May shoulder surgery, giving him plenty of time to think about what could have been . . . and what is now.


“I kind of expected it because we lost two years in a row in the first round to the same team,” Odom said of the persistent trade talks. “This is an organization that plays for championships. Of course, when you go out there [and play] hurt, it hurts a little bit, but it’s part of the business as well.

“I don’t want to be traded, This is where I’d like to end my career. L.A. is L.A., and it’s also my second home.”

The Lakers were impressed when Odom successfully fought through a torn labrum in his left shoulder toward the end of last season, finishing with a career playoff-high 33 points in Game 5 against Phoenix.

It could have pushed him into a buoyant off-season, but his shoulder ultimately required surgery, Kobe Bryant began asking for new teammates, and Odom’s name started popping up on office whiteboards throughout the league because he and Andrew Bynum were the Lakers’ most tradable assets.

Nothing was done.

The Pacers wanted Odom, but they also wanted Bynum, which was enough to turn away the Lakers. Minnesota wasn’t thrilled about acquiring Odom in a direct trade with the Lakers partly because of his salary (two years remaining, $27.4 million total). More recently, the Lakers value Odom in the triangle offense as much as, if not more, than Marion, who wants out of Phoenix.

Odom, 27, is again expected to be the team’s second-leading scorer, top rebounder and second- or third-best assist man. He might come back with a little edge, as well.

“He obviously wants to prove himself as a player,” Coach Phil Jackson said. “I thought he was having a great year last year. He shares the game with players and I think that’s a real important aspect of it.”

For now, Odom is working on strengthening his shoulder. He can shoot with it but feels fatigued after doing so. He had the same surgery on the same shoulder in 2005.

“This is my second time ripping it, but I’m going to do whatever I have to do to call on it in the season opener” on Oct. 30, he said.

Center Kwame Brown, after his latest legal run-in, met with Jackson and apologized for being arrested Saturday morning in Georgia.

Brown was charged with two misdemeanors -- disorderly conduct and interference of an officer -- after his cousin was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

“The truth will come out like it always does,” Brown said. “I’ve always been clean as a whistle when it’s time for truth time . . . unless I’m a really good liar. Nobody lies that well.”

Jackson said he spoke with Brown about “significant off-the-court things that he’s got to monitor.”

The player with the most impressive touch through two days of training camp is quite possibly Coby Karl, an undrafted free-agent guard out of Boise State.

“He might be one of our best shooters on the team already,” Jackson said. “He’s got a great stroke.”

Karl, the son of Denver Coach George Karl, does not have a guaranteed contract, but the Lakers could change that at any time because they have only 14 players under contract, one shy of the league maximum.