Lakers pull Odom offer off the table
Lakers owner Jerry Buss, an avid poker player, called Lamar Odom’s bluff at the negotiating table Tuesday, following through with his threat to pull the offer to Odom.
The Lakers admitted that the offer Buss presented to Odom and his representatives has been available for over a week, but that because the unrestricted free agent never responded, Buss grew upset and broke off all negotiations.
“Yes, we have taken the deal off the table,” Lakers public relations director John Black said. “Talks have broken down for the time being.”
Black was asked if talks could resume in the future.
“That’s within the realm of possibility,” he said.
Lakers team officials, who were not authorized to speak about the negotiations, said Buss offered Odom a deal for $9 million a season for four years at $36 million, or $10 million a season over three years for a total of $30 million.
Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, were looking for $10 million a year over five seasons.
Neither Schwartz nor Odom could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Team officials also said Buss was not happy that Odom and Schwartz have been talking with the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat President Pat Riley about a deal, but have refused to talk to the Lakers.
The Heat and Mavericks can offer Odom only the mid-level exception of $5.8 million, but can give him a five-year deal up to $34 million.
Many in the Lakers’ organization believe that Odom wants to accept Buss’ offer -- and so do those close to Odom -- but he has failed to convince his agent.
If the two sides do begin negotiating again, Lakers sources said Buss, if he’s willing to talk, will lower his offer to Odom.
Those same sources said Buss is a man of principle who sticks by his decision.
Those sources were mindful that when Shaquille O’Neal said during an exhibition game in Hawaii in 2003, “Now, you’re gonna pay me,” while looking for a contract extension, Buss was angry and never forgot that.
After the 2004 season, Buss traded O’Neal to the Heat, in a deal that brought Odom to the Lakers.
It was widely known that Odom, who will be 30 in November, would have to take a pay cut because of his age, the declining economy and the small number of teams that were far enough under the NBA salary cap to make a legitimate offer to him. He was on the Lakers’ books for $14.1 million last season, the final year of a six-year, $63-million contract he signed with Miami in 2003.
But the Lakers felt as if they made a fair offer to Odom, Lakers sources said, and are baffled as to why he didn’t accept it.
Now it might be too late to get a deal done.
Odom proved his worth during the Lakers’ championship run in the playoffs by averaging 12.3 points, third-best on the team, and 9.1 rebounds, second-best on the team.
He averaged 32 minutes a game in the playoffs, a lot of it because center Andrew Bynum was either in foul trouble or ineffective.
In those cases, Pau Gasol moved to center, Odom came off the bench to play power forward and the Lakers were often a better team.
Odom was solid against Orlando in the NBA Finals, averaging 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds in Game 5 as the Lakers clinched the title with a 99-86 victory.
Staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this story
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