Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom doesn't have to be in the news just for Kardashian-related reasons.
The power forward's career has declined rather precipitously ever since he left the Los Angeles Lakers, but he's now one of the more intriguing free agents left on the market. Odom may not be able to tip the balance in favor of any one team at this stage of his basketball life, but he'd certainly be a nice role player for a squad in need of some frontcourt depth.
Right now, five options stand out above the rest as potential landing spots for this particular free agent.
In each scenario, he'd be able to bring a new element to the frontcourt.
Odom has always been a point guard trapped in a forward's body, and as a result, he's one of the league's best big man dribblers. He isn't the typical power forward who enjoys banging around in the paint at the expense of all the other parts of his game.
There is still a place in this league for Odom, even though he's going to turn 34 during the early portion of the 2013-14 season and has seen his stats trending downward over the last few years.
A contender just has to give him a chance.
Which one will?
Golden State Warriors
Although the Golden State Warriors haven't popped up in the rumor mill, they're certainly an intriguing option for the versatile big man. And it's not too late for a new team to suddenly surface as a leading contender for his services.
The Dubs already have quite a few power forwards on the roster, but none of them possess Odom's ball-handling skills.
David Lee is an incredible scorer, but you can't ask him to function as a point-forward or else disaster will almost certainly ensue. Marreese Speights is even more limited, although he was certainly a nice value signing for this up-and-coming franchise.
Odom would certainly be a luxury for this team, but he'd still bring a new look coming off the bench.
By signing with Golden State, Odom would also have a chance to play for a contender and chase yet another ring at this stage of his career. There is no reason for him to sign with anyone who can't actually compete in 2013-14—and the Dubs qualify after all of their offseason acquisitions.
After last season's postseason run, Golden State has maintained its momentum through the offseason. Signing Odom would only speed things up.
Los Angeles Clippers
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman, Odom's preference is to remain in Los Angeles.
That means that the Clippers have to be one of the leading candidates for his services, as he's already played with the team and built chemistry with most of the current players.
However, Odom did struggle while he was with the Clips last season.
He averaged only 4.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, shooting just 39.9 percent from the field with a 10.9 player efficiency rating.
It was his second lackluster season in a row, both coming after he left the Los Angeles Lakers for the Dallas Mavericks.
That said, he'd be able to play more with the Clippers this go-round, and they'd offer him another shot to turn around the twilight of his career. The reason is quite simply the lack of frontcourt depth.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are firmly entrenched as the starting power forward and center, respectively, but there isn't much depth behind them. Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins are the only backups, and a four-man big man rotation doesn't typically cut it during a grueling NBA season.
That's especially true considering that Mullens and Hollins are extremely limited players who only have value in certain situations.
The Clippers could definitely use another power forward, and Odom's ball-handling skills would ease some of the constant pressure sure to be on both Chris Paul and Darren Collison. Even during last season's unimpressive campaign, Odom finished sixth on the Clippers in assists per game while playing less than 20 minutes each contest.
Los Angeles Lakers
The best part of Lamar Odom's career undoubtedly came with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though he began his career with the other residents of the Staples Center, he still managed to win awards and championships while wearing purple and gold.
Odom's only major honor during his NBA career came at the end of the 2010-11 season, when he was named the Sixth Man of the Year. He also has two rings with the Lakers, from 2009 and 2010.
Notice a trend there?
All three of those achievements came while he was wearing the gold jersey pictured above.
Now, to be fair, Odom is no longer in his prime. But the Lakers still present him with a comfortable fit, and confidence is never a bad thing in the Association.
He'd be a nice insurance policy for Ryan Kelly, especially if he was willing to sign a one-year deal and preserve the Lakers' financial flexibility for the summer of 2014. Kelly and fellow rookie Elias Harris are currently serving as the primary backups for Pau Gasol, and that's rather problematic.
L.A. has given no indication that tanking is in the cards. If anything, their offseason moves have indicated the exact opposite: that they refuse to give up on this season, no matter how much of a long shot success may be.
Should Odom sign and return to his favorite stomping grounds, fans shouldn't expect to see the Sixth Man winner return to his form of old. This is a different version of the versatile big man, but he could still be a valuable cog and help keep the Lakers competitive in their inevitable chase for one of the Western Conference's final playoff spots.
How many people actually remember that Lamar Odom played for the Miami Heat before?
He signed with the Heat in 2003, played one season with the team, advanced to the postseason for the first time in his career and then was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Shaquille O'Neal deal. During that one season, Odom averaged 17.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
It was one of the most impressive seasons of his career, and it resulted in the only Player of the Week and Player of the Month selections he's ever earned.
Quite a bit of time has lapsed since Odom last played for the Heat, but they now present him with the perfect situation. Winderman certainly likes the idea:
But if he is amenable to the minimum, I would have to think Pat Riley would find a place for him in Miami. While he has not been the same player the past two seasons, he still would have value as a utility player, if he is willing to accept such a role.
Do the Heat need Odom?
Could they use him?
That's an important distinction as Miami continues to flesh out their roster for an attempt at a three-peat. Chris Andersen, Jarvis Varnado, Greg Oden and Joel Anthony are the only backup big men in South Beach, and none of them are particularly versatile.
If any of the four aforementioned players stray outside the paint, it's problematic for Miami. The same isn't true for Odom, and that's why he'd be a nice luxury option to bring off the bench when the matchups call for it.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks already have a ton of power forwards on the roster, which seems to be a clear indication that they plan on moving Carmelo Anthony back to the 3. It's a decision I disagree with, but that's not entirely relevant here.
As long as that's the plan, the Knicks could use even more depth in the frontcourt.
Rotoworld's depth chart for New York looks like this:
- Power forward: Andrea Bargnani, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and C.J. Leslie
- Center: Tyson Chandler, Earl Barron
Without many intriguing options left in the free-agent pool at center, shifting Martin over to the 5 is the best choice. But, even then, the Knicks are left with a ton of injury-prone players expected to play major minutes.
That's why Odom makes sense in Madison Square Garden, even if he wouldn't be able to play for long stretches of time.
Odom has also shown interest in joining the Knicks in the past. Last summer, ESPN's Ian Begley relayed the following from an anonymous source: "He wants to find a place where he can end his career, and New York is ideal. He's won championships in the past and he wants to win another. And to do it there would be great."
Not much should have changed in a year. If New York was intriguing to Odom in the past, it should be now as well, especially as his options continue to dwindle.