With the NBA postseason imminent, there isn't much to speak of in the way of rumors, save for two of the Association's most celebrated franchises and their plans for the future.
The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers headline the latest chatter, and they are intertwined in interesting ways. Past Lakers coach Phil Jackson is now the Knicks' president, and he's reportedly seeking to acquire one of his former players from his time in LA in free agent Lamar Odom.
Not much has gone the Lakers' way during the 2013-14 campaign, but explosive guard Jodie Meeks has been particularly impressive in averaging 15.6 points per contest.
While Los Angeles is going to benefit from having a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, New York is already putting plans in place for free agency in 2015. That will hopefully help the Knicks return among the league's elite.
Here is a closer look at the latest buzz surrounding these two teams and what it means for their respective futures.
Knicks, Phil Jackson Reportedly Interested in Lamar Odom
Off-court issues have kept Lamar Odom out of the NBA all season, but according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, there's an outside chance that New York could sign him for the final game of the regular season:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Knicks, at the behest of new team president Phil Jackson, have been looking into the possibility of signing Odom [...] ...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.
Also noted in Stein's report is the information ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard brought forward, which was that Jackson met with Odom during last week's game versus the Brooklyn Nets. Stein's sources told him that the meeting was more about a potential comeback for Odom than it was personal.
Odom has to be a bit rusty, having played just two games in his stint in Spain due to a back injury. With the size and rebounding he brings to the table, he could help New York immensely if he emulates the success he's previously had in the NBA.
The Knicks are 27th in the league in rebounding, and Odom is a good enough ball-handler to give New York's rotation some flexibility in terms of size and spacing on the offensive end. However, it is difficult to determine just how many quality minutes Odom could give the Knicks at this point in his career.
Jackson's endorsement should go a long way in helping Odom's chances of landing an offer in the Big Apple. What he does from there is up to him. He certainly has the talent to be a force in the Association, but he must come back with conviction.
Lakers Want to Retain Jodie Meeks
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Lakers are interested in keeping Jodie Meeks around beyond this season. Meeks is slated to be an unrestricted free agent and is making just $1.6 million in salary in 2013-14.
Meeks has done an exceptional job amid a trying season and has improved as an all-around player. He certainly wants to be with the organization for the long haul, based on his comments in Bresnahan's report:
When I signed here two years ago, I told my family that I would love to be here the rest of my career. Learning from great players — Kobe [Bryant], Pau Gasol, and at the time, Dwight [Howard], Steve Nash. Obviously, I want to be here and it's a great organization and I love playing here.
It speaks volumes about Meeks that he took advantage of a less than ideal situation in LA by learning what he could from decorated superstars and applying it to his own game. That should help him gain leverage in contract negotiations with the Lakers and other potential suitors.
Although his average of 15.6 points per game is impressive, those numbers are somewhat inflated by head coach Mike D'Antoni's system, which relies on quick shots and a fast pace. D'Antoni's tactics have often backfired at the expense of team defense—an area where Meeks still has room to improve.
Zach Lowe of Grantland believes Meeks should be in the running for the most improved player in the league:
For a true 2-guard, Meeks is also slightly undersized and wouldn't be a surefire starter on a championship-caliber squad. Still, he is only 26 years old and is evidently still developing, so he should be among the most intriguing, underrated free agents of the impending offseason.
Based on the poor overall results during D'Antoni's tenure, he is liable to get the pink slip. Whoever is coaching the Lakers next season will have to like the prospect of Meeks continuing to be a solid scorer.
Only Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Steve Nash are under contract beyond this season in LA, so general manager Mitch Kupchak will have to retain as many pieces as possible to position the Lakers for success.
Analyzing Blueprint for Knicks' 2015 Free Agency
Everything in New York seems geared toward fighting through next season as effectively as possible, then focusing all efforts on landing another superstar to play at Madison Square Garden.
Marc Berman of the New York Post has the latest on the Knicks' plans, which gives a lot of power to Jackson in shaping the team's future that will build around Carmelo Anthony:
...A person close to the situation says, Jackson is in charge now and has the right to take a detour anytime he wishes. Jackson appears committed, however, to the notion of grinding through next season, allowing the Knicks’ multitude of expiring contracts to come off the books and going full bore at the heady free-agent class of 2015 that could feature Anthony’s buddy, LeBron James, whom they lost out on in 2010. James has yet to decide whether to opt out this summer.
Retaining Anthony is vital to New York's bid to bring in another star. Amar'e Stoudemire has had trouble staying on the court in recent years, and when his contract expires in 2015, he will free up a lot of cap space for the Knicks to invest their funds elsewhere.
Berman also reports what Jackson had to say about the upcoming free-agency class and how New York isn't expected to be in the market for many marquee players:
There’s no doubt that projecting ahead, this year’s free agent crew, we’re not particularly in the running. Not a great crop coming this particular year. But  does have a group of guys together. Steve and I are going to work to manage the roster, our financials, so we can have an impact in that area.
The coaching situation is something to monitor, too, and Berman implies that someone such as Steve Kerr could be in line to succeed Mike Woodson.
This year's failure to reach the playoffs could see Woodson leave the team, and it will be key, before the Knicks make this push in 2015 free agency, to pick the right coach to lead the way.
Whether it's the incumbent Woodson who convinces Jackson and Co. of his abilities to remain at the helm with a bit of a roster upgrade or it's a different type of leader, that is the biggest move ahead. As Jackson implies, there isn't much room for New York to add any big names before the 2014-15 campaign, where the front office seems resigned to being a borderline playoff team in the weak Eastern Conference.
As great as Jackson was as a coach, he has a lot of work ahead to prove his chops as an NBA executive. Given his reputation and association with perennial Larry O'Brien Trophy-contending squads, he seems as strong of a presence as any to turn the tide for the Knicks.
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