Odom gets to the point
Forget about that Lakers frontline of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Odom has been shifted to ball-handling guard, part of an experiment conducted by Coach Phil Jackson in a monthlong petri dish called exhibition season.
Odom, who has already clashed with Jackson in training camp, has brought the ball up court for the Lakers in their first two days of practice.
Derek Fisher has shifted to a shooting-guard role on offense and Kobe Bryant has moved to small forward.
The concept, if it sticks, has its pros and cons.
Odom, 6 feet 10, could post up smaller point guards, though the team would lose some of his offensive rebounding if he stayed out on the perimeter.
Also, there would be a litany of switching on defense, with Odom picking up the opposing small forward, Bryant guarding the opponent’s shooting guard and Fisher picking up the point guard.
Odom, who will be 29 next month, spent about half a season with the Clippers at point guard earlier in his career.
So far he looked average in handling the ball.
“He’s looking like I would expect him to look -- still searching for where to be, how to get there, not only knowing where he’s supposed to be, but where everybody else is supposed to be,” Fisher said. “It’s going to take some time to learn how to really quarterback the offense, though he’s excited about the opportunity.”
Odom averaged 4.4 assists a game in his first nine NBA seasons.
“It’s almost a natural fit for him because he wants to involve other guys and make plays for other people,” Fisher said. “I think we’ll be able to do a lot of good things for him in that position, where he can bring the ball up and then cut off, get some post-ups, do some other things with the ball. He’s not just standing around, waiting for somebody to get the ball to him.”
Bynum has set a lofty goal in his fourth pro season.
“I want to become an All-Star,” he said. “If I wasn’t, yes, I would be [disappointed]. It’s kind of tough in the West, but I think I’ll be able to do it.”
If Bynum picks up where he left off -- averages of 17.3 points and 12.2 rebounds in six games last January before getting hurt -- it could happen.
The Western Conference All-Star centers last season were Yao Ming and Amare Stoudemire.
Shaquille O’Neal’s arrival in Phoenix means Stoudemire will no longer play center, though O’Neal could receive some voting attention from fans.
Bynum, who turns 21 later this month, said he felt fine after his first couple of practices, but Jackson wasn’t saying much.
“Don’t ask. I’m not talking about it,” Jackson said. “I thought Andrew was tired [Wednesday], so I’m not going to say anything about it.”
Bynum smiled when told about Jackson’s analysis.
“He always says that,” he said. “When has he not said that? I think it’s just a little bit of a motivating factor to kind of keep me going.”
Ronny Turiaf signed a four-year, $17-million contract with Golden State during the off-season, leaving an energetic hole on the Lakers’ bench, though the team hoped it found a suitable replacement in 6-9 power forward Josh Powell.
“He’s impressed us a lot,” Jackson said. “He’s had a lot of tenacity. He refuses to be boxed out. He’s creating a lot of problems with our big guys. They know they have got a tiger down there after the rebounds all the time.”
Powell, 25, signed a partially guaranteed deal with the Lakers after averaging 5.5 points for the Clippers last season. Powell, in his fourth season out of North Carolina State, has also played for Dallas, Indiana and Golden State.
Money, money, money
Bryant recently clarified a report that surfaced during the Olympics that he would be willing to play in Europe for $50 million.
“Sometimes you get some really ridiculous questions,” Bryant said. “I’m sitting up there with LeBron [James] and someone throws us this question about playing overseas. I don’t want him to answer it -- he’s a young kid, I didn’t want him to take the controversial stuff.
“So I said, ‘All right, if a team throws us $50 million then we’ll all go.’ Who has $50 million, know what I’m saying? Then it became a serious issue. It’s just something that was a joke for us. People kind of took it and ran with it.”
Bryant makes $21.3 million this season and has two more years left on his Lakers contract totaling $47.8 million, though he could terminate the contract after this season.
Sasha Vujacic suffered a moderately sprained left ankle Tuesday after coming down on the foot of DJ Mbenga on a drive to the basket.
Vujacic, who signed a three-year, $15-million contract in the off-season, is expected to be out a few days.
“I think he’s going to be all right,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those weird ones. There’s no swelling, but he’s got some obvious discomfort.”