ESPN's Marc Stein added that the move came down to the wire:
According to league rules, Knicks had until gametime to sign Lamar Odom to get him on their 2013-14 roster. Beat the deadline by 45 minutes— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 16, 2014
According to KnicksNow.com, complete terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but this is a suitable situation for Odom in his bid to return to the Association, as he reunites with his former coach in Knicks team president Phil Jackson.
Although it may appear rather pointless on the surface to sign a player for the last game of a season, Bleacher Report's Howard Beck cites a source who indicated that Odom's deal runs for two years, with a team option for 2014-15:
Lamar Odom's contract w/Knicks is a 2-year deal, per source. Second year is nonguaranteed.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) April 16, 2014
Nevertheless, that doesn't leave a lot of time for Odom to prove himself. With the Knicks out of playoff contention and head coach Mike Woodson's future with the team cloudy at best, though, there is some reason to believe that Odom could see minutes before the book is closed on the 2013-14 campaign.
On Wednesday, Woodson remarked about his potential impending departure and vowed that missing the postseason wouldn't happen again, per Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Woodson said: "if they bring me back I'll make damn sure this doesn't happen again." Woodson hopes to the Knicks tell him his fate soon.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 16, 2014
Woodson thinks he should come back as Knicks coach but he said it's up to management.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 16, 2014
Woodson on his future: "Is it fair to let me go? I don't think so."— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 16, 2014
Steve Alexander of Rotoworld noted that Odom would make $8,500 for Wednesday's regular-season finale versus the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden:
Lamar Odom will make $8,500 for tonight's game. Wonder what he'll do with all that cash...— Steve Alexander (@docktora) April 16, 2014
That insult aside, this is hardly a strong commitment from the Knicks front office. Odom last played in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012-13, appearing in all 82 games but averaging a career-low 4.0 points and 19.7 minutes per contest.
Off-court issues kept him out of the league this season, as Odom checked into a drug and alcohol rehab center back in September 2013 (h/t People.com).
After appearing in just two games as part of a two-month contract with Spanish club Laboral Kutxa Baskonia, Odom injured his back and ended his brief international stint. That put his career in jeopardy, but now this reprieve may be just what Odom needs to get back on track.
Jackson coached Odom when he thrived as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, reaching his apex when he won the league's Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2011. ESPN.com's Marc Stein previously reported that Jackson was mulling the possibility of acquiring Odom, and the prior rumors seem to align well with what actually transpired Wednesday:
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 since the 34-year-old's short stint playing in Spain ended and are weighing whether to go through with adding the Queens native to their roster before the regular season ends.
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.
The New York Daily News' Frank Isola, perhaps sarcastically, weighed in on Odom's signing, suggesting Jackson may bring in former Lakers center Andrew Bynum in the offseason:
With Lamar Odom set to join the Knicks, who wants to bet that Phil Jackson signs Andrew Bynum this summer & trades Tyson Chandler.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 16, 2014
Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com analyzed what Odom's signing could mean in the context of New York's future plans on offense:
The fact that the Knicks are signing Lamar Odom, with a team option for next year, means Phil Jackson is likely implementing the Triangle.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 15, 2014
What will come of Lamar Odom's stint with the Knicks?
Since being the Clippers' No. 4 overall draft pick in 1999, Odom has never quite lived up to his billing as the true franchise-changing force he's flashed the potential to be. For a 6'10" big man, the 34-year-old veteran has shown unique ball-handling skills, strong rebounding, a penchant for knocking down perimeter shots and driving to the hoop, as well as the ability to clamp down on defense when he puts forth the effort.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Knicks' future, and Jackson has his work cut out for him. Odom is a low-risk signing, as New York can sever ties after just one game in uniform.
However, if Odom can even come close to emulating what he's been in the past in a bench role for the Knicks, he could become a valuable part of the rotation. At the very least, he can help his teammates through next offseason learn what should be a new system under a new coach.
Since Jackson is likely to hire a candidate with similar coaching philosophies to oversee the squad, it should help to have Odom in the fold to aid the prospective transition. Substantial change is likely imminent for one of the NBA's most storied franchises. The addition of Odom is a minor but sure indicator of what's to come.