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Is it Odom or Bust for Heat?

As the Lamar Odom sweepstakes turn, it appears that the Heat's recruitment team of president Pat Riley and star guard Dwyane Wade has taken the sales pitches to Los Angeles. Riley-Lookingup

Word is that Riley took a flight out to Southern California late last week (where he maintains a home), and Wade followed with his second trip out west in as many weeks, arriving last night.

Both men presumably have other business and personal reasons for the trip. But it's not beyond the realm of possibility that they might also squeeze in some one-on-one time with Odom. Wade created another Twitter frenzy last night when he tweeted - and joked, perhaps - that he was in L.A. to bring Odom back to Miami.

This situation appears to be coming to a head within the next 24-48 hours. But even as this episode drags on, you have to wonder what happens with the Heat if Odom stays with the Lakers. If Plan L.O. goes up in smoke, is there a Plan B?

By offering Odom the full mid-level contract, Miami has already shown that it is willing to go well above the luxury tax limit and use funds Riley had suggested earlier this summer that he wouldn't touch. He also is willing to take on a contract that cuts into the precious 2010 salary space the franchise has protected as if it were a national treasure.

Odom-Heat Without making a follow-up move to dump some salary, Odom's $5.85 million starting salary next season would equate to close to a $12 million investment for the Heat, when you consider the luxury tax penalty.

There's no question that Riley has contradicted many of his previously stated positions in this Odom pursuit. But what happens if things fall through, and Riley/Wade return to Miami w/o L.O.?

Is there a fall-back plan to salvage the offseason?

Would the Heat still be willing to use the mid-level to go after help at point guard (where the options range from a reunion with Jason Williams to a reclamation project with Jamaal Tinsley)?

Would there be a pursuit on the sign-and-trade front to secure a Carlos Boozer or Tyson Chandler or Amare Stoudemire?

Would there be any interest in making a marginal, but athletic upgrade such as a Hakim Warrick? And since they're out in L.A. anyway, why not check in with the other team regarding a Kaman or a Camby?

Or does Odom simply represent a Powerball situation - one ticket, one shot at the big stash? There's still time to make smart moves this summer.

But if Odom isn't issued a boarding pass alongside Riley and Wade on the return flight to MIA, might Riley ground all meaningful attempts at a major roster upgrade in Summer '09? 

Obviously, there's a will to get something done with Odom. But will there be a way or effort to salvage this offseason if things don't work out?

With Odom - as has been the case throughout his career - there always seem to be more questions than answers.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)


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