Nine summers ago, Lamar Odom’s Clippers career came to an end.
Four seasons after being drafted fourth overall by the Clippers, Odom signed a six-year, $65 million offer sheet to join the Miami Heat. As a restricted free agent, he begged the Clips not to match. Having already matched massive offer sheets for the likes of Elton Brand and Corey Maggette earlier in the offseason, they obliged, and off he went.
Nine up-and-down years later, Lamar Odom’s Clippers career begins again.
In case you missed it, the club acquired Odom from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Mo Williams, who picked up his option worth $8.5 million for next season and agreed to join the Utah Jazz. Dallas, with their hopes of landing free agent Deron Williams, wanted to take on no additional salary in the deal, which is why the Jazz got involved.
So, what does Odom mean for the Clippers?
Assuming his head is back in the right place, which is no small assumption, Odom instantly brings tons of versatility to the Clipper lineup.
With his size (6’10″) and array of skills, he can realistically play all five positions on the floor. However, with the depth of L.A.’s backcourt, he’ll likely see most of his minutes at either forward spot.
The team has decisions to make regarding free agent forwards Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans, both of whom were signed after last season began. They each also played rather large roles in the Clippers’ late-season success and first-round playoff triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies. Evans was particularly noteworthy in that series, bringing an insane amount of energy off-the-bench with his rebounding on both ends of the floor and stellar defense against the Grizzlies’ bigs.
However, with Odom now in the fold, Martin and Evans are unlikely to return to the Clippers. While Odom has started at times in the past, he was typically most effective coming off the bench for the back-to-back Laker championship teams in 2009 and 2010. With Blake Griffin and Caron Butler entrenched as the starting forwards, Odom will likely be able to go back to what he does best.
He was dealing with several personal tragedies last season after being shipped to Dallas from the Lakers just before the beginning of the season, and his on-court performance suffered greatly as a result. Odom posted career-lows in just about every statistical category, averaging just 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game. He and the Mavericks eventually agreed to mutually part ways for the remainder of the season in early April.
Odom has been vocal about his desire to play in Los Angeles, so here’s his next chance. If he’s fully invested, there’s no reason to believe he can’t go back to being one of the league’s most unique weapons.
Losing Williams’ scoring production may hurt the Clippers a bit, but his departure should be alleviated a bit by the expected return of Chauncey Billups, who played in just 20 games last season before going down with an Achilles injury.
Does adding Odom make the Clippers a serious contender to the San Antonios and OKCs of the world?
Likely not. There are still plenty of holes that need to be patched-up in order for the Clippers to truly make the leap towards title contention.
However, if the Clippers are adding a fully bought-in Odom, it is at least a baby step in the right direction.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.