There has been a great deal of electricity around the team this offseason and it has stirred a lot of passions around the core constituency of the team. Much of this has centered around the youth vs. experience debate, or the Jefferson vs. KG saga depending on which type of zealot you constitute.
So, let’s take a hypothetical look into the offseason for a moment and try and fixate on something else for a second….
Let us end this KG or Al debate and get Lamar Odom to play the 4 and go "Phoenix East" once and for all, why not. (read the rest after the jump)
There’s no great reason to believe this is probable, but it certainly must be feasible considering that LA/MN/BOS have all been hard to ignore during the offseason highlights. Nothing seems to be immanent on any front, but with the Vegas Summer League beginning all the usual players will be showing up to do some business in the dessert and get the Free Agent season in full swing.
I love Odom, perhaps my favorite to watch when he's in the zone. Odom instantly takes the ball-handling responsibilities off of Pierce in the half court. Rajon Rondo was going to need a year’s worth of seasoning to become a full time playmaker, so having Odom gives the team a "true" point-forward. The offensive/defensive balance in the frontcourt would be solid as well with Perk/Al/Odom being able to cover most matchups.
He has been miscast as the 2nd banana with Lakers and is clearly not the best fit with Bryant-if there is one. Odom doesn’t have the greatest perimeter shot, but he’s shown improvement and has somewhat been the victim of his early career movement between rebuilding teams. His offensive game is still very difficult to defend and he is a competitor when in the moment. Take a look at some of his games in the past against the league’s best.
Odom rebounds and defends extremely well in all the matchup situations this team currently lacks, perimeter defense from the frontcourt against face-up bigs. He is a deadly player off the dribble from 17ft and out and as a third or fourth offensive options...unbelievable.
Best of all, he's only 28 and was at his competitive best the one year he got to lead a young team OUTSIDE of LA, the Miami Heat...Odom's not made for LA, he belongs back home, (hey Rhode Island!)
In the last Olympics it was he and Shawn Marion who played the most consistently and both were able to adapt their games enough to anchor a Bronze medal finish. Those games were some of the most trying for any US team in world competition as a disturbing portion of the home fan base actually WANTED the team to fail...talk about pressure.
While that team was disjointed and doomed to fail from its inception, a Celtics team with Odom would be extremely interesting in the Eastern Conference for the short and long term.
Of course there is no way to know if this is even possible, but taking the available rumors and superstar whispers its not hard to see the three necessary teams having the matching parts to satisfy all parties.
A team like this would give the young bench players a chance to develop and decisions on their contracts can be made on a case-by-case basis. But by the numbers, the team should be able to support a mid-eighties payroll if it was competing for the ECF every year, which should be ample incentive for ownership.
With players like Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Ryan Gomes, Tony Allen, and Rajon Rondo developing around 4 bona fide All Star caliber talents, (Allen/Pierce/Odom/Jefferson) the team looks deep and balanced between role players and their respective responsibilities. Most of the bench is still low cost for the current length of the star salaries.
Jefferson is due in a year and will likely get a 10-12 million dollar extension, but Rondo is under contract for 3 more seasons at rookie scale, Davis and Pruitt for another 4.
Gomes and Allen are going to be important decisions, but each could be retained for mid-level money or under in all likelihood and have proven to be solid team players who have good relations with management.
A solid 6 year run would be well in reach with a nice slow decline giving a winning team a chance to re-tool. Remember, winning teams don't have the difficulties that losing teams do. With all the talk around Celtic Nation about modern players not wanting to play in Boston, not much credence has been given to the fact that the team has just plain been bad for two decades.
Competitiveness and direction build the reputation of franchises, much more so than beaches and nightclubs. Winning players look for titles...hopefully this helps to unify some of the dissidents on this board who have been warring during what promises to be an interesting offseason.
The team isn’t done yet, that should be obvious from the signs throughout the league. Let’s review our options before taking sides.