Former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom has not gotten off to the best of starts in his attempt to resurrect his playing career abroad.
The 13-year vet signed a contract to play with a Spanish club on Feb. 18, but after two games and 23 minutes played, he has been laid up by a back injury.
Per ESPN's Marc Stein:
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Friday that Odom is expected to miss at least a month because of the persistent back issue, which prompted his new Spanish team to allow Odom to return to the United States this week for evaluation and treatment.
Because Odom signed only a two-month contract with Laboral Kutxa Baskonia, sources said, it is still being determined whether he will return to the club before the end of the Spanish season.
That two-month contract runs through the remainder of the Spanish League season. The club was clearly hoping to benefit from Odom's versatile game and ample experience to boost its ragged play. At the time of Odom's signing, Laboral Kutxa was ninth in the 18-team Spanish league and last in its Euroleague group.
Once the contract negotiations were complete, Laboral Kutxa president Josean Querejeta sounded a note of optimism in his official statement, per Stein:
We're very happy to have signed a very important player who has had a long and fruitful career in the NBA. We've worked very hard over the last couple of days to make this happen, we felt we needed a boost and had to break the collective cloud that has been hanging over us over the last while so we could get back to winning.
The move also made sense for Odom. Laboral Kutxa already had a former NBA player on the roster in Andres Nocioni, and it has a reputation for getting its players noticed by American clubs. Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Jose Calderon and Tiago Splitter all played for the club before making the jump to America.
Before signing with Laboral Kutxa, Odom had worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers in November. It seemed like a fine fit at the time—the Clippers needed bench help and Odom played for them in 2012-13—but the club ultimately decided to fill out its bench with veterans Stephen Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu and Sasha Vujacic. Only Turkoglu remains with the team.
It appears that the Clippers lucked out by not signing Odom. They already have enough back issues on the team—starting shooting guard J.J. Redick is out indefinitely with a bulging disc in his lower back. The team struck gold on the buyout market, acquiring Glen Davis and Danny Granger after both players were bought out of their respective contracts.
As for Odom, he will turn 35 on Nov. 6 of 2014. It's not impossible for him to complete his comeback, but at his age, the clock is against him.