2012 NBA Free Agency: Why the Clippers Won't Regret Bringing In Lamar Odom

Andrew WallockContributor IJuly 4, 2012

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 25:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Dallas Mavericks leaves the court after being ejected during the NBA season opening game at American Airlines Center on December 25, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Lamar Odom had a disastrous 2011-2012 NBA season by all accounts. Whether it was his public feud and hurt at the Los Angeles Lakers for attempting to trade him, or his outright collapse while playing for the Dallas Mavericks, Odom definitely will need a chance to redeem himself in the months to come.

And it appears he may be able to do just that, now that the Los Angeles Clippers have sent Mo Williams off to the Utah Jazz and brought him back on board (via CBS Sports). It's been a long time since he suited up for the other LA team; they drafted him with the fourth overall pick in 1999. And that long time has yielded lots of changes for the once horribly sad franchise in Southern California.

For one, the Clippers have had a bit of a resurgence lately with the emergence of Blake Griffin and the acquisition of superstar point guard Chris Paul. Making it all the way to the second round of the playoffs this year, they were quickly ousted by Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.

Lamar Odom watched all of this from his couch, presumably somewhere in LA. I assume he was coming up with some way to make his way back on to a team in Los Angeles.

But the question is, does he want to be an NBA player or a reality TV star?

Odom has endured a lot of criticism over the years about his marriage to the "other" Kardashian sister, Khloe, and the number of reality shows he's appeared in with her and her pointlessly famous family.

Last year, especially, Lamar hit rock bottom, even enduring a stretch where it was rumored he'd be suiting up in the NBA Development League. The season eventually culminated in his dismissal from the team for personal reasons (after a run-in with owner Mark Cuban).

But that all seems to be changing. Mr. Odom finally seems to be grasping the consequences of his actions and what it all has meant to his NBA career, which is the one thing he should've been focusing on all along. Most recently, it appears he will be taking a step back from the reality TV business in order to focus on his NBA game, which has been affected by his reality TV exposure. 

Just take a look at the numbers from last ear. Lamar averaged fewer than 10 points a game last year for the first time in his career, ending the season with averages of 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and shooting 35 percent. Horrid numbers for a guy who has career averages of 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 46 percent shooting from the field. 

But now he's back in Los Angeles, exactly where he wanted to be all along. Plus he'll be playing with a number of great teammates in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, etc. If there's one person besides Steve Nash that can inspire you to be the best that you can be, it would be Paul. There's no way Lamar will be able to get away with the same shenanigans that he did in Dallas.

Plus, like I said, he's back in L.A. and not focusing on his acting career any longer. It seems that last year was the punch in the gut that he needed, and he's ready to redeem himself on all accounts. And the Clippers expect him to. Screw up here, and it's hard to see any team not named the Charlotte Bobcats bringing him on board. 

While he may have hated on the Clippers in the past, calling them "basketball hell" the first time he played  for them, he now seems genuinely excited to be suiting up with them. Most of that is probably directly related to the fact that they are much better than they were 10 years ago, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he actually wants to be there and probably had some say in the trade that went down. 

In his introductory press conference he was quoted as saying, "It feels great to be back in a Clippers uniform. It’s like déjà vu all over again. I feel like I’m 19. Hopefully I can turn back the clock on the court as well."

And hopefully he can turn back the clock. déjà vu is great as well, as long as NBA fans don't start having déjà vu of the way he left the Clippers the first time...or most definitely of his 2011-2012 season in Dallas. That would be a shame. 

But, by all accounts, NBA fans can expect somewhat of a coming-back party for Lamar Odom this season. There will be plenty of minutes for the forward, and Chris Paul just has a way of making everyone around him better.

It's been long enough since the "devastating" Laker trade, and Odom has had plenty of time to think about where he stands in regards to the NBA. He seems to have figured it all out.

He may not be the Odom of old next year, but he certainly won't be the Odom we saw in Dallas. You can count on that.