Preposterous, I know. But, upon close inspection (by my standards), It actually seems like a pretty darn good idea for the Kings to make a run at signing free agent Lamar Odom. Here's the case against him: He'll turn 30 at the beginning of the season, he may or may not have a pathological addiction to candy, he has been accused of disappearing at times, the Kings aren't good enough yet to take a risk on a crowning piece like Odom. What follows is the argument in favor of his signing with the Kings.
As is the case with any NBA deal, money is the primary issue. Specifically, how much would it take to get him and is he worth that amount? Reportedly, he was offered a 3 year contract worth $27M by the Lakers, which has since been pulled off the table. That same report says that Miami has also offered a 5 year, $35M contract. So, it seems safe to assume that he'll cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7-9M, depending on how many years the winning bidder is willing to guarantee.
Obviously, the Kings don't have the benefit of being a title contender, a major market, or a tax haven on their side. However, we do have the rare advantage of cap space. This means that we are one of the few teams that can sign Odom for more than the MLE without possessing his Bird Rights. But the Lakers do have his Bird Rights, so they can match any offer we make. Why would he choose us over them? I'm sure he wouldn't, but it isn't a given that the Lakers would match. According to Shamsports, the Lakers are already approximately $7M over the luxury tax without Ron Artest's salary (which should be about $7M per). That means that every dollar that we're willing to guarantee over the Lakers' offer, they have to pay two dollars to match. Add to that the fact that he's not a starter for them and they've already taken 3yrs/$27M off the table and it seems very unlikely that they'd be willing to match - say - 4yrs/$33M. Yes, that's a year less than MIA's offer, but it's also nearly the same amount of guaranteed cash. Odom now has a ring, and he didn't really seem like the kind of player that would take a pay cut to play on a great team in the first place. I say, he follows the money and we've got it.
Here comes the hard part: Is he worth it? Some will say no, he's too old. But we know that even exceedingly talented young teams need veterans to become contenders. We salivate at Portland's promising young core, while they throw money at aging second-tier stars like Pacman Jones at the Minxx Gentlemen's Club & Lounge. A lot would have to go right for us to be in the position that the Blazers are in now, and their coach and front office agree that they desperately need quality vets to become legitimate contenders. Hedo is 8 months older than Odom and just got 5yrs/$53M from Toronto. His stock is high, but I don't think he's a better player than Odom. He scores more points, but does so less efficiently. He has good size and ballhandling for his position, but so does Lamar. He also plays no defense and isn't a good rebounder, which is what makes Odom special. Artest - who is six days younger than Odom - just got 5yrs/$35M, but I'm sure I don't have to explain what makes him a uniquely risky commitment. So the price is right.
Does he fit the team? He plays a position where we have an apparent logjam, but it's also the position of most need. Best case scenario, Donte or Casspi will become a SF like Odom, but neither of those two is at all proven and Odom already is Odom. He can also give us a much different look at PF than JT, Brockman, or May, which makes us more versatile. I understand that this rebuild has been too painful to throw away what small progress we've made on a short-term solution. Still, we've got to start winning games sooner rather than later, given our woeful attendance and Sacramento's tenuous grasp on the franchise. I'm suggesting we sign Odom through the 2012-13 season, by which time Martin will be 30 and his contract will expire. Shock, Hawes, and Evans will be 26, 25, and 23, respectively. If we're not contenders by that point, then this phase of the rebuild will have been a failure regardless of whether we signed Odom. So Odom isn't too old for this team unless one believes that his production will fall off quickly as he passes 30. Obviously LA and Miami (his two most recent employers) don't expect that to happen, given that they have both offered him long-term deals. I'm sure that you can think of plenty of players that are still highly effective in the first half of their thirties, including 9 of last year's 26 All-Stars. I haven't seen much diminishment of Odom's considerable athleticism. He'd have to really fall off of a cliff in the next few years to not be worth $8.25M per season, in my opinion.
So there you have it: the case for Lamar Odom. It's almost certainly moot, since Petrie flat-out stated that the Kings wouldn't be major players in the market for free agents (please hold your Sean May jokes). But I think Geoff would be wise to reconsider that position in this case. Thanks for reading.