Lak­ers’ Odom comes in handy

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - Brod­er­ick Turner

Start­ing for­ward in Bynum’s ab­sence says help­ing out where he can is in his na­ture.

OK, Lak­ers Coach Phil Jack­son said with a smile af­ter prac­tice Tues­day, call La­mar Odom “our handy­man.”

And this will be an­other sea­son in which Odom plays the handy­man role in the front­court.

With cen­ter An­drew Bynum re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing his sur­gi­cally re­paired right knee, and with Pau Ga­sol mov­ing to cen­ter, Odom will start at power for­ward when the Lak­ers open the reg­u­lar sea­son Oct. 26 against the Hous­ton Rock­ets.

But that’s noth­ing new for the 6-foot-10 Odom.

He started the first 11 reg­u­lar-sea­son games last sea­son when Ga­sol was out with a ham­string in­jury. In all, Odom started 38 games last sea­son.

“That’s the strength of my game, is to be able to play

any­where on the court,” Odom said. “That’s what I look for­ward to do­ing the most.”

Even this sum­mer when he played for the U.S. na­tional team, Odom dis­played his handy­man skills.

USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski made Odom the start­ing cen­ter on his un­der­sized team that won the FIBA World Cham­pi­onship in Is­tan­bul, Turkey.

In the fi­nal game this month, Odom had 15 points on seven-for-nine shoot­ing to go along with 11 re­bounds in the gold-medal vic­tory over Turkey.

The handy­man was at his best, again.

“That’s how I started play­ing the game. Looks like that’s how I’m go­ing to end play­ing it,” Odom, 30, said. “It al­lows me to be coach­able be­cause I can adapt, from you telling me you want me to take more shots to me not tak­ing any shots.

“With some units we have out there, I’m will­ing to pass, re­bound. If you get on me enough, I’ll take my man and try to [score on] him. That’s what I have the most fun do­ing.”

So, Odom will start un­til Bynum re­turns. He’ll help run the of­fense, fight for re­bounds, pass to open team­mates, and he’ll shoot when nec­es­sary.

“He’s a very valu­able player to us,” Jack­son said. “A lot of times peo­ple say, ‘La­mar is out there and he just gets us eight re­bounds and six points and four as­sists.’ But it’s not that. It’s about what he does on the floor.”

So far, this has been Odom’s best train­ing camp un­der Jack­son.

In past train­ing camps, Jack­son has chided Odom about his con­di­tion­ing for tak­ing a lot of time off dur­ing the off-sea­son, but not this time.

“He looks like he’s in re­ally great shape,” Jack­son said.

Odom said he came back ready to play.

“Last year, I was in pretty good shape,” Odom said. “But this [sum­mer] I’ve been play­ing so much bas­ket­ball. I guess bas­ket­ball shape some­times is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to just get­ting in shape … [now] I can get my sec­ond wind and fight the fa­tigue.”

Odom also threw a sur­prise party Mon­day for his wife, Khloe Kar­dashian, for their one-year wed­ding an­niver­sary.

Bryant gets on court

Kobe Bryant, who sat out the first three prac­tice ses­sions, par­tic­i­pated in Mon­day night’s prac­tice.

Bryant has been work­ing him­self back into shape af­ter hav­ing surgery on his right knee last month.

“He looked good,” Jack­son said. “He had no sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem with it. A lit­tle swelling [in his knee], ob­vi­ously, but I think that’s it.”

Bryant didn’t prac­tice Tues­day.

Etc.

Luke Wal­ton was plagued with lower back prob­lems last sea­son and played in a ca­reer-low 29 games.

But he worked hard in the sum­mer to strengthen his back.

Wal­ton went through both prac­tices Mon­day and was back on the court for prac­tice Tues­day.

“I was a lit­tle hes­i­tant about it,” Jack­son said about Wal­ton prac­tic­ing twice Mon­day. “But he wanted to try it and did fine.”

Rook­ies Devin Ebanks and Der­rick Car­ac­ter also con­tin­ued to im­press in prac­tice Tues­day.

“The young guys played well,” Jack­son said.

Robert Gauthier

L.A. Times

VALU­ABLE: La­mar Odom will be asked to fill many roles and adapt, which is a strength of his.

Mustafa Ozer

WORLD STAGE: La­mar Odom, with Turkey’s Semih Er­den, played cen­ter in U.S. world ti­tle win.

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