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The Lakers finally retaining Lamar Odom with a 4 year deal that could be worth as much as $33 million when it is all said and done is a huge piece for the Lakers as they start their journey for a back-to-back title run. I was a huge pessimist about keeping Odom, and I said that if the Lakers did not keep Odom, the Lakers would not have a chance at winning the championship. LO's signing instantly propels the Lakers to the favorite to win the championship, but besides the championship implications of LO, I started thinking about what kind of impact this is going to have on the Lakers as a whole, but Ron Artest specifically.

LO and Artest go back to their childhood days in Queens on the AAU court together. Few have stopped to ponder what kind of chemistry that could bring to the Lakers. The type of chemistry and understanding LO and Artest have cannot be taught. It is a rare type of chemistry that is always unintentional and never detrimental.

Lamar Odom is the most versatile player in the NBA. As Vic "The Brick" Jacobs says, "He is the walking mismatch." Lamar can shoot, pass, drive, rebound, and play defense. He may not always put all the effort in throughout the season to do all these things, but when the time comes, he has shown that he can step up. Artest has a tendancy to start getting trigger happy or going one-on-one. LO is going to be able to help facilitate anything for Artest. If LO drives, he can dish it out to Artest for his 15-17 foot deadly jumper or LO can stay on the perimeter to help create space for Artest to go one-on-one. It really doesn't matter what Artest wants to do because Odom will be a key player in helping Artest's production go up. Artest is going to feel a new freedom that he has never had in his career. 

I was unsure of what Artest's impact was going to be without Lamar, but I'm optimistic about what Artest is going to do. Artest may not be as good a fit as Ariza, and we all know what overloading your team with stars can do, but LO is the glue that will make Artest work in the triangle. I usually explain some statsitics and make predictions as to what will happen to statistics in the next season, but that isn't how LO's impact should be valued. Lamar brings so much to the game that can't be quantified on the stat sheet.

There is one thing we can be sure of about Lamar Odom's impact, and that is it will be a very big positive for the Lakers. Ron Artest seems to have the most to gain individually from LO's acquisition. With a roster that boasts 4 legitimate scoring options in Kobe, Pau, Artest, and LO and a host of supporting role players, the Lakers will be the team to beat this season. The LO signing really does show us as basketball fans how valuable one player can be to a championship contending team. The expectations for the Lakers are no different than last year, and it seems like a lot of the pressure has been shifted from Kobe onto Lamar Odom.

Izzy

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