For the first time in a long time, there is basketball-related news to report on embattled free agent Lamar Odom.
Our sources tell us Lamar met with Laker execs Monday afternoon to discuss terms of a possible return. We're told things went well -- though nothing's been signed -- and that Lamar's first choice has always been to return to the Lakers.
The last time Odom suited up for the Purple and Gold, he secured Sixth Man of the Year honors while posting a career-best 19.4 player efficiency rating during the 2010-11 season. A versatile big man, he's capable of changing games on both ends of the floor and anywhere in between.
But that's assuming he's at his best.
His basketball reputation was battered over the last two seasons.
Miffed by his inclusion in a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Odom demanded a trade and was eventually dealt to the Dallas Mavericks prior to the start of the 2011-12 season. In Dallas, he posted career lows across the board before abruptly leaving the franchise prior to the end of the regular season.
He spent last season with the Los Angeles Clippers. While he managed to play all 82 games, his scoring was lower than it had ever been (4.0), and his field-goal percentage stayed beneath 40 for the second straight season.
Off the floor, Odom's reputation has been tarnished even more.
In August, he was stopped for suspicion of DUI. This came just days after ESPN reported that Odom's friends were trying to get him help for a drug problem. A rehab stint followed shortly thereafter, but People reported that he was in and out of the facility in about 24 hours.
A source close to the situation told Jen Heger of Radar Online in late August that the Lakers would welcome Odom back to the franchise if he was willing to go to rehab:
The Lakers are a family and even though Lamar isn’t currently on their roster, that doesn’t matter, he’s a two-time championship Laker. Lamar needs to go to rehab and he’s been told by the team that if he goes and completes treatment, there’ll be a spot for him.
Despite the reported offer, Heger's source said Odom had been hesitant to accept the deal:
Lamar is really resisting rehab, even with the Lakers’ offer on the table. He doesn’t want to miss training camp. Lamar thinks he can kick this on his own. It’s very hard for him to admit that he needs help.
TMZ later reported that Odom said he'd been sober for nearly a week and didn't need rehab to maintain sobriety. Odom reportedly didn't rule out the possibility of getting professional help, but would only accept the assistance in private and not in a rehab setting.
If he can find his footing with the Lakers, his basketball story would have come full circle. He broke into the NBA with the Clippers, then enjoyed a wildly successful seven-year stay with the Lakers.
He'll need his personal life in order before he can ever get back out on the hardwood, but if that's happened, this could be a lifesaving relationship—for Odom and the razor-thin Lakers.