The New York Knicks may be on the verge of postseason elimination, but that won't stop them from making moves.
And grabbing headlines.
Among the options the Knicks are considering, sources said, is signing Odom before Wednesday's regular-season finale to a contract that includes a team option for next season. Doing so would enable the Knicks to work with Odom throughout the offseason before deciding if he's ready to play—physically and mentally—in time for the start of the 2014-15 season.
Odom, who has not played in the NBA since last season, was arrested over the summer on a DUI charge and has spent time in rehab for drugs and alcohol. The 14-year vet 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.
Lacking an NBA suitor, Odom signed a contract to play with Spanish club Laboral Kutxa Baskonia on Feb. 18 but was laid up by a back injury after two games and 23 minutes played.
Though he probably signed in Europe due to the lack of NBA options, the Spanish club 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.
But Odom has appeared to find a sympathizer in recently-appointed Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson, who coached Odom for six seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Under Jackson, Odom won the 2010-11 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award and helped the Lakers to three Finals appearances and two titles.
Jackson met with Odom during an April 2 game against the Brooklyn Nets. The former coach admitted he was on "a talent hunt," per the New York Post's Marc Berman, and could be zeroing in on a player he knows well.
Can Odom, who will turn 35 in November, actually help the Knicks next season? If he is healthy (in mind and body), then it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. He is a versatile big man who can pass and defend—something the team has lacked this season, per Hardwood Paroxysm's Jared Dubin and SB Nation's Bryan Gibberman:
Lamar Odom would immediately be the smartest basketball player on the Knicks— Bryan Gibberman (@Gibberman10) April 11, 2014
And like 4th best defender (Tyson, Shump, Toure) RT @Gibberman10: Odom would immediately be the smartest basketball player on the Knicks— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) April 11, 2014
In the end, Knicks fans have no choice but to trust Jackson's judgement on this matter.
Even if Jackson brings in the big man, Odom will have to make it through a complete offseason and training camp before he has a chance to play meaningful basketball for the Knicks. And with New York capped out next season—not to mention in serious need of more intelligent players—they might not have many superior options.