Lottery-bound NBA teams that don't actually have a lottery pick can make late-season splashes, too.
Update: Wednesday, April 16, at 7:25 p.m. ET by Joe Flynn
The deal is done, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley:
League source says the #Knicks deal with Lamar Odom's deal will have a team option for next season.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 16, 2014
With the Knicks season ending on Wednesday night, the most important news is that team option for next season.
---End of update---
Sources told ESPN.com that the Knicks are on course, barring an unforeseen snag, to formally sign Odom this week in a move that would put him on their roster immediately and, more importantly, include a team option for next season.
Structuring the deal this way, after a tumultuous 12 months for one of Jackson's favorite players when they worked together with the Los Angeles Lakers, would give the Knicks two months before free agency begins July 1 to get the 34-year-old into their program and start working with him.
After spending the previous two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers, Odom hasn't played in the NBA at all this year. The former Sixth Man of the Year and two-time NBA champion hasn't made a relevant impact on the basketball court since being traded from the Lakers in 2011.
Over the last two-plus years, Odom's off-court issues have dominated headlines, fueling his demise and leaving his career to hang in the balance.
Bleacher Report's Joe Flynn did a nice job of breaking down Odom's activities since last season ended:
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.
Stein initially brought word of New York's interest in Odom before the Knicks were officially eliminated from the playoffs. At 34 and nearly one year removed from the NBA, any impact Odom has on the Knicks between now and next season is bound to be minimal.
But a source told Marc Berman of the New York Post there are other agendas at play.
Signing Odom could be more of a "salary-cap measure" than anything else. He would add a body to the roster that the Knicks can leverage in any trade where salaries need to be matched up.
That's an awful risky, half-baked ploy, though.
Using someone like Odom, who is clearly at a fragile point in his life and career, as something of a pawn doesn't scream genius; it approaches cruel. It's also something Stein says the Knicks have no intention of doing. They see Odom's arrival as a "long-range play," which makes more sense given their situation.
The Knicks are capped out and barren of valuable trade assets heading into this summer, which means they're basically incapable of adding any significant talent. Team president Phil Jackson is familiar with Odom and his play style, and if healthy, he adds depth to a team that cannot afford to acquire any.
Is signing Lamar Odom a good move for the Knicks?
The structure of Odom's contract also minimizes any risk involved for the Knicks. Signing him this late with a team option allows them to evaluate him into this summer before making a final decision.
"We’re in a talent hunt," Jackson told The New York Times' Billy Witz in March. "We have to bring in talent."
Odom may not be the talent Knicks fans had in mind, but he does increase the options of a team with very few.
*Salary information via ShamSports.