The latest on the Lamar Odom saga

Jim Hill reported yesterday that Odom was scheduled to meet with Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade about joining the Heat.

Talks have resumed with Odom and the Lakers, but they remain pessimistic that Odom will return.

Hmm. This is the first I’ve heard about the Lakers being “pessimistic.” All of the national coverage of this story has suggested that it’s pretty much an inevitability that Odom will return to the Lakers.

The LA Times Laker Blog has this to say

…but today on 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland Show, co-host/KCAL sideline reporter John Ireland said the people he’s talked with- also within the organization- remain optimistic. As he noted, kinda depends on who’s on the other end of phone…

Ramona Shelburne of InsideSoCal gives her take

I still believe, based on recent conversations I’ve had with people who haven’t taken the vow of radio silence some of the principals in the negotiations have, that Odom will be back with L.A.

The Miami gambit is merely his best leverage at getting the Lakers to sweeten their offer. But financially, he can still make the most with the Lakers.

Earlier today, I spoke with a league source who said Odom may be toying with the idea of signing with Miami and testing free agency again in three years. If he thinks he can get a new contract after that third year, for more money, the financial picture starts to match up better.

With the way the league’s finances are going though, and the fact Odom will be 32 in three years, I can’t see him getting a better offer later. Which makes that idea a huge gamble.

The only other reason I can see Odom bolting is if he’s emotionally disappointed by how the Lakers handled the process. If he’s hurt they didn’t give him what he asked for, and merely likes the public courting the Heat have done.

Meanwhile, the oddsmakers still see the Lakers as the favorites to win the 2010 NBA Championship, with or without Lamar Odom.

“Getting [forward Ron] Artest is better than losing Lamar,” said Jay Rood, director of the MGM/Mirage Race and Sports Book. The Lakers signed free agent Artest this month. “The core of that team still is what it is, and as long as you keep Kobe [Bryant] and [Coach] Phil [Jackson], nothing changes.”

At MGM/Mirage, the Lakers are an 8-5 favorite to win the NBA title, followed by the Boston Celtics, and recent addition Rasheed Wallace, at 3-1, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with Shaquille O’Neal joining LeBron James, at nearly 4-1. The Orlando Magic are 13-2 and the San Antonio Spurs are 7-1.

“We didn’t change anything when they got Artest, and if they lose Odom it’ll just be a wash,” said Jay Kornegay…

Is it just me or are the Spurs pretty compelling at 7 to 1?

But back to Odom, whom I still believe will return to the Lakers. The Miami offer has been on the table for a while, and if he wanted to take it, I think he would have already pulled the trigger. Then again, if he’s trying to get the Lakers to sweeten their offer, and they’re standing pat (or worse), then he may very well bolt to Miami. His meeting with Wade and Riley certainly can’t hurt the Heat’s chances, as it shows that he’s seriously considering their offer.

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