Throughout his entire career, Lamar Odom has faced doubts about his performance, aggressiveness and will to win. Not once has his talent ever been in question.
Now, at 32 years old, Odom has parted ways with the Dallas Mavericks and will remain unemployed until the playoffs are over and the offseason begins.
The decision to release Odom came after his worst season by far—6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game.
It was clearly not working out in Dallas, but Odom is only one year removed from his 14.4-point, 8.6-rebound (per game) output of the 2010-2011 season, for which he earned Sixth Man of the Year honors.
Odom still has plenty of good basketball left, and many teams could use his talents as they try to make a push for a championship. Here are the five teams that should (but are not) targeting Odom in the upcoming offseason, in no particular order.
Note: These predictions are based on a few different factors—team need for Odom, location and the group that would be surrounding him. He is very temperamental, and needs to be surrounded by players that will support him and welcome him into the fold. This rules out a young team like Washington, who could certainly use Odom but also has a variety of youth and maturity issues.
The Clippers are a team on the cusp of a championship. Chris Paul is the league’s best point guard, and he is currently leading “Lob City” to a playoff berth.
With a starting lineup of Paul, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, young superstar Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers will compete with anyone in athleticism and talent.
Griffin and Jordan both need to develop more; however, if the team is going to make a real championship run, and as it stands, they could use a guy like Odom to provide a spark off the bench.
Odom and scoring wing player Nick Young would give the Clippers two excellent scoring options as the first two guys off the bench, and Odom could spell Butler at small forward as well. Odom’s rebounding would also help the Clippers, who currently rank 18th in the league in rebounding .
Finally, Odom could stay in Los Angeles, where he has lived for the majority of career. If they can afford him, this could be a match made in heaven.
The Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich have managed to stay near the top of the Western conference for the last decade, and Odom could be willing to join a consistently competitive team.
The struggle for the Spurs has been to rebuild while holding onto their main veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. By adding young talent to shape around those three, the Spurs have done just that.
As Duncan’s minutes continue to decrease, there is room for a strong power forward to take on a veteran’s role and minutes. Odom is a consistent scorer and rebounder, and if anyone can get him to produce, it's Popovich.
The Grizzlies have a big offseason ahead of them. Both Marreese Speights and O.J. Mayo have expiring contracts, and the team has a core of young stars that it will need to pay a large portion of their salary cap.
If Speights is done in Memphis, Odom could slot perfectly into a role off the bench, and provide more scoring and versatility than Speights. He would be playing for a contender, and for a team on the rise that could use playoff experience in the tough Western conference.
Also, Odom’s versatility could really be put to use by head coach Lionel Hollins. With Marc Gasol locked in at the five and Mike Conley at the one, Hollins could maneuver the two, three and four slots depending on matchups or who is hot. Between Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Odom and Zach Randolph (and Mayo if he stays), the Grizzlies would have a number of excellent players with a variety of skills.
Odom could legitimately turn the Grizzlies into a championship-caliber team, if he plays up to his potential.
This is probably a stretch, but if Al Horford comes back healthy for the Hawks, Odom could be the player to put the Hawks over the edge in the East.
The team is 34-23 this year, despite ranking 18th in the league in points per game and 23rd in rebounds per game. Odom could provide help both categories.
Before you gawk at the possibility of the Hawks actually competing, imagine their lineup if everyone is healthy: Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Lamar Odom, Josh Smith and Al Horford, with Marvin Williams coming off the bench. That is big, tough team to beat no matter who your superstars are.
In a last ditch attempt to keep Dwight Howard happy, the Magic should sign Odom in the offseason.
The Magic have limited trade value on their roster (not including Howard), so they will have a difficult time adding players outside of the draft and free agency.
Odom can help Howard on the boards, but more importantly his ability to stretch the floor and hit open threes could prevent teams from double-teaming Howard on the post. With Howard, Odom and the versatile Ryan Anderson, the Magic would have an excellent front court capable of scoring, defending and rebounding with the best of them.
This could be a huge move for the Magic if they hope to avoid a repeat of this year’s Dwight Howard media disaster.