In his first official order of business as New York Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Phil Jackson signed former Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom to a contract with one game left in the regular season. Though the news gleaned little fanfare and mostly eye-rolls as a result of Odom’s recent off-court troubles, the Knicks seem intent on giving Odom every chance to regain something of the form that made him Sixth Man of the Year in 2011. According to reports, Odom’s long-shot comeback bid will begin this week at the Knicks training facility.
Marc Berman of the New York Post first reported the news. Despite Odom’s rocky past couple of years, Jackson appears optimistic about his chances of making an impact for New York.
“He’s coming to town this week,” Jackson said in his first comments on Odom. “We know he’s a really good basketball player.
“He wants to put himself back together, and he has a chance to do that by having the whole summer to work at it and getting himself back in basketball condition to play. He told me that’s what he wants to do. Having a relationship with him. It’s a pretty good risk-reward situation for us.”
No matter Jackson’s faith in his former Lakers pupil, it’s important to note Odom’s deal with the Knicks is anything but concrete. A stipulation of his one-game, $8,500 contract signed in April was a non-guaranteed team option for the 2014-2015 season. The offseason will basically serve as a months-long tryout for Odom, and his puzzling contract allows New York exclusive access to that process.
At this point, it’s unrealistic to expect much from the 34-year-old Odom. He didn’t play basketball at all last season due in part to a reported drug problem, and was a shell of his former self as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012-2013 and the Dallas Mavericks in 2011-2012.
However, it bears mentioning that Odom’s personal life has undergone a renovation: he is now divorced from reality television star Khloe Kardashian.
If there’s anyone that can get through to Odom, it’s definitely Jackson. The two won a pair of NBA titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, and Jackson’s ability to get the best out of Odom’s unique natural abilities was crucial to that success. Here’s hoping their reunion in New York can do more of the same, both on the court and off.
Will Lamar Odom’s comeback bid will be a success?
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