It seems that Lamar Odom’s eventual return to the NBA is inching closer, as the veteran forward sat down and spoke with head coach Doc Rivers and other officials from the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the meeting was mostly arranged as a way for the team to gauge Odom’s status after a turbulent offseason, but it was clear that both sides are interested in striking a deal at some point.
Madelyn Burke of LACtv noted that Rivers “really likes” Odom and wanted a chance to speak with him, face-to-face.
Doc says he really likes Lamar Odom, just wanted to get in front of him. Not much more than that. #Clippers— Madelyn Burke (@MadelynBurke) November 17, 2013
Odom has undergone some struggles over the past few months, as TMZ reported that the 34-year-old was arrested for DUI in late August.
Fortunately, those issues seem to be behind the 14-year veteran. Stein found that Odom has been working out for the past month and has a goal of seeing the NBA hardwood by the second half of the season.
He’s already reportedly close to being in basketball shape and could become the Clippers’ 15th man sooner than later. "One executive said Odom 'looked pretty good' and that he is 'not heavy weight-wise' and is 'talking like he really wants to play again,'” according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Broderick continued with a statement from Rivers himself:
Odom has said the Clippers are the only team he would play for, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
"It really was I just wanted to see him physically and see how he was doing," Rivers said. "He looked good. He looked great. He looked like his weight was way down and in good shape. But that doesn't mean a lot."
As per Stein, a source close to the situation said: “I wouldn't say a deal [with the Clippers] is imminent, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen."
Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling followed on Monday, Nov. 18:
Source close to Lamar Odom: He's doing well & wants to stay in LA. 90% chance he signs w/ LAC; no timetable yet. No other teams in the mix.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) November 18, 2013
The rival Los Angeles Lakers have also expressed interest in Odom’s services, as he won two titles and a Sixth Man of the Year award during his seven years with the organization.
ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne and Stein learned that the veteran’s positive history with both clubs is a large reason they are willing to take a chance on him.
Odom played for the Clips in 2012-13, participating in all 82 games and averaging 4.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. The 6’10”, 230-pound forward came off the bench almost exclusively and made a big impact during his limited 19.7 minutes per game.
It will be interesting to see if the recent talk between the Clippers and Odom will result in any fruitful contract negotiations in the near future. It certainly appears as if that will be the case, but anything could happen until Odom inks his signature to a deal.