Would Lamar Odom Be Worth the Trouble for LA Lakers?

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 16:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Clippers stands on the court in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on April 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Lamar Odom may have a place or two in the NBA waiting for him if he gets his act together.

Sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers continue to monitor Odom's situation, and that each would be interested in signing him if his life is in order:

The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers continue to monitor Lamar Odom's progress as closely as they can, and would consider signing the enigmatic free-agent forward should Odom prove that his personal and legal issues are behind him, according to sources with knowledge of both teams' thinking.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers and Lakers -- who both registered interest in signing Odom this past summer until his private life became a near-daily subject for the tabloid media -- will have renewed interest in the [34-year-old] if he indeed makes a comeback this season.

Since being traded from the Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, Odom's career and life off the court have entered a downward spiral. Owner Mark Cuban dismissed him from the Mavs midway through the 2011-12 season. Odom didn't return to action until 2012-13 upon being dealt to the Clippers.

Back in Los Angeles, the everything forward was supposed to thrive. While he appeared in all 82 games for the Clippers, he averaged just four points a game on 39.9 percent shooting in under 20 minutes a night. The highlight of his season was registering 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. 

Not long after the Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies, Odom's off-court life went south.

Over the last few months, TMZ reported that he was arrested for driving under the influence and battling an ongoing drug problem.

Mounting off-court controversy has left Odom out of the NBA. Should he prove himself mentally and physically able to handle a return, though, there will be suitors willing to take a chance on him. 

Both Los Angeles teams make the most sense. Hollywood is where Odom has clearly been most comfortable. The Lakers are an especially intriguing fit considering Odom enjoyed the most successful seven years of his career next to Kobe Bryant.

During his time with the Lakers, he averaged a combined 13.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, joining Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett as the only four NBA players to record similar marks for that seven-year stretch.

In his final season with the Lakers, Odom was named the Sixth Man of the Year after pumping in 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and three assists per game off the bench. When he finally exited Los Angeles, he left with two championships to his name.

If he intends to make a comeback, then, it might as well be with the Lakers.

Although based out of Los Angeles, the Clippers won't likely have minutes for the 34-year-old. Not to mention he didn't fare too well with them last season and doesn't fit into their current run-and-gun style of play. 

Familiar faces may help Odom succeed.
Familiar faces may help Odom succeed.Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

On the Lakers, he would rejoin the team that helped turn him into one of the most coveted reserves in the league. Reuniting with Kobe, a known friend of his, also bolsters his potential comfort level. And when dealing with Odom, familiarity isn't so much a luxury as it is a necessity.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni wouldn't have problems finding minutes for him, either. The Lakers are currently employing a win-or-lose-by-committee rotation, and a role player like Odom would fit nicely into that dynamic.

In Steve Nash and Kobe's absence, they're also short on playmaking. Odom was an understated distributor through his 14 years in the league and would present a nice option to jumpstart high-low pick-and-rolls and off-the-cuff facilitating. 

Of course, Odom has to get healthy first, and the Lakers don't know if he is.

Shelburne and Stein wrote that while the Lakers are interested, they haven't had "recent contact with Odom beyond calls inquiring about his personal welfare."

Still, with Odom training again, the Lakers in need of all the versatile help they can get, and plenty of fond memories for both parties to look back on, one can see the potential for a successful reboot.

"We're all here for him, really," former teammate and current Laker Jordan Farmar previously said of Odom, per ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin. "We know what kind of guy he really is. Everybody goes through tough times in life, and if he needs anybody, he can always reach out to us."

Ties that strong may be just what Odom needs to salvage whatever future, if any, he has left in the NBA.



*All stats compiled from Basketball-Reference and are accurate as of Nov. 14 unless otherwise noted.