Could Lamar Odom Be a Member of the New York Knicks Next Season?
Lamar Odom has had a wonderful basketball career. Lamar was a star in college which translated to him being selected fourth overall in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, he’s been a two time NBA Champion and was most recently named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Now, after a disastrous partial season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Lamar is looking to re-ignite his career. Currently, Dallas owns his rights after the team chose not to release the veteran forward. However, if Lamar is granted his release or bought out he has his sights set on a return to the Los Angeles Lakers or a change of pace, and coasts, as a member of the New York Knicks.
Lamar Odom was born in the South Jamaica section of Queens, New York. During his first three years of high school, Lamar played for Christ The King Regional High School in Middle Village, Queens. He then transferred to Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, New York for the basketball season and then to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain, Connecticut for the rest of the school year.
Despite his many family problems, Lamar received several awards for his high school play. Lamar was named the Parade Magazine Player of the Year in 1997. As a senior, he was named to the USA Today All-USA First Team.
Unfortunately problems shadowed him during his college career. In 1997, Lamar enrolled in summer classes at UNLV. The NCAA discovered that a booster named David Chapman gave Lamar payments that added up to $5,600. The investigation resulted in Coach Bill Bayno being fired and UNLV being placed on probation for four years. Following the school’s suspension, Lamar transferred to the University of Rhode Island. After sitting out the 1997-98 season, Lamar led the Rams to the Atlantic Ten conference championship in 1999. He ended his college career by leading the Rams their first A-10 Tournament title over Temple.
Lamar played for the Los Angeles Clippers from 1999-2003. He was then signed by the Miami Heat where he played for the 2003-2004 season. Following that season, Lamar was traded in a package with Caron Butler and Brian Grant to the Los Angeles Lakers for superstar Shaquille O’Neal. Lamar played for the Lakers from 2004-2011, winning two NBA Championships and being named the Sixth Man of the Year in 2011. He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks after a failed trade to the New Orleans Hornets left his relationship with the Lakers strained.
His experience with the Mavericks was a bad one. Lamar struggled in almost every aspect of his game. At one point he was assigned to the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League but that stint was canceled before he ever made an appearance and instead he re-joined his Dallas teammates. After a spat with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Lamar was sent home. However, the team did not grant Lamar his release and instead simply ended his season.
That allowed the organization to retain his rights and attempt to trade him. The Mavericks will either trade Lamar or buy him out for $2.4 million before the deadline on June 29. If Dallas fails to trade or buy Lamar out by that date, the Mavericks will be responsible for the $8.2 million remaining on his deal. That is not going to happen.
With everything that has gone on with Lamar over the past year finding a trade partner willing to give any value is unlikely. That means a buyout is almost certainly in Lamar’s future. Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports he’s already started to consider his future via free agency, leaning towards signing with the New York Knicks over the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
“Lamar is big on being comfortable,” the source said. “And New York is somewhere he can be comfortable.”
“He wants to find a place where he can end his career, and New York is ideal,” the source said. “He’s won championships in the past and he wants to win another. And to do it there would be great.”
“It definitely won’t be the fiasco that it was last year,” the source said of Odom’s approach to 2012-13.
New York’s interest is unknown. However, it is very likely the Knicks will have little more than the veteran minimum to offer any free agent after likely having to use the full Mid-Level Exception to retain Jeremy Lin — unless the team retains Lin’s Bird Rights. That being said, if Lamar is willing to accept the minimum in order to re-establish his career the Knicks should be interested.
Lamar’s game has a lot of versatility. He not only brings Championship experience and veteran know-how but is also an established rebounder and interior scorer. Lamar also has a solid mid-range game and is used to playing with stars. At 6’10″, Lamar would be a great addition to the Knicks’ second unit. He proved he could thrive off the bench in a supporting role in Los Angeles. New York could allow Lamar to get back to what he does best.
There’s no telling if the Knicks or Lakers will be interested in signing Lamar if he becomes a free agent. However, is it really a surprise that Lamar has a special place in his heart for the Big Apple? It would likely be special for the Queens native to wear a Knicks’ jersey before his career comes to an end. It will be interesting to see if the Knicks take advantage of this unique opportunity to add inexpensive talent to their roster.
Do you think the Knicks should pursue Lamar Odom if he becomes a free agent? Does he have anything left? Do he and his Kardashian family members bring more baggage than benefit to the team?
Thanks to our friends at Sports Media 101.