Lamar who? The Lakers should choose Ariza over Odom, mainly so they don't have to pay Odom a signing bonus of 100,000 packs of Twizzlers
Ever since the Lakers won the NBA Championship, the sports world has been buzzing about how much of their roster they will be able to preserve.
Unlike the Boston Celtics of last year, which was clearly a team built for one strong run, these Lakers have a chance to make it back to the Finals next season. And while a certain TBDS writer is having outlandish dreams about Kobe leaving, the real issue LA faces is what to do about Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza.
Many believe the Lakers will let them both walk, while others think signing Odom should be the priority. But if the Lakers want to give themselves the best chance at making it back to the Finals, they will sign Ariza.
And I just don't say Ariza because I traded for him in NBA 2K9 where he helped my Milwaukee Bucks reach the NBA Playoffs (where we lost in the first round to Miami), but because he has a few distinct advantages over Odom.
1. Defense: There is great defenders, All-Star defenders and even All-NBA defenders. But then there is All-World defense, which is what Ariza possesses. Ariza is so versatile on defense, easily changing from on-the-ball lockdown assignments to perfect help and team defense. While players such as Dwight Howard and Josh Smith can intimidate with blocked shots, Ariza can play defense so well, his man won't get the chance to get a clean shot up. Odom is serviceable on defense, but nowhere near Ariza's level.
2. Shooting: Odom can score, there is no doubt about that, but he isn't the caliber of shooter Ariza has become. When Ariza first entered the NBA, his shot was almost non-existent, but throughout the season, he improved game-to-game to the point he was one of the Lakers biggest outside threats. He isn't as efficient as Odom when it comes to taking it to the rim, but if he can improve in that area, his outside-inside dual threat will be much more valuable to the Lakers than Odom's mid-range game.
3. Youth: Both men will want lucrative, long-term deals. So when having to decide between two players with similar skill sets, it makes more sense to sign a 24-year-old to a multi-year deal compared to a 30-year-old. I believe Odom has plenty of years left of good basketball, but he has reached the peak of his skill. Ariza still has room to grow and is already a dangerous player, so at this point, the roof of the Staples Center is the limit for this kid. As his confidence grows and he gets more touches, he could become a multi-time All-Star for LA.
4. Consistency: One thing Lamar Odom has been consistent at is being inconsistent. One question that lingered before every Laker playoff game was; "Which Odom would show up?" Even Odom didn't know the answer to that question. With Ariza, even if he was having a cold shooting night, his stellar defense was sure to be there no matter what. I would have more confidence knowing I was sending out a player who would give the LeBrons and the Wades of the NBA a difficult time every night.
5. Health Care: Odom is not as fresh or healthy as Ariza. Neither have had any serious injury issues in their careers, but Odom has been out with nagging injuries a lot more than Ariza has. Also, it seems Ariza has made it in the clear without any sort of skin infection from the 1,000 tattoos he has, so the Lakers don't have to worry about that. However, if they keep Odom, they better make sure they have a good dental plan, because all that candy is going to catch up to him. Be smart, sign Ariza, save money on your company dental care.
Under no circumstances should the Lakers let both players walk. But if they want to save money while sending out a very competitive team, they will Odom with an A-R-I-Z-A.
Disclaimer: The views expressed go in direct contrast with Skip Bayless and the ESPN NBA experts who choose Odom over Ariza. While the author respects the worldwide leader in sports ... they are incorrect.