- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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All signals emanating from Clipperland continue to paint the prospect of Lamar Odom's return to his old team as a when-not-if inevitability
But the latest word circulating Sunday, in the wake of the long-term hand and elbow injuries suffered by J.J. Redick, strongly suggests that the widely expected re-signing of Odom is unlikely to take place before the Clippers finish a seven-game road trip in mid-December.
Christmas, according to one insider, is a more realistic target.
The Clippers will undeniably miss Redick for the next six to eight weeks with the eight-year veteran playing the best all-around ball of his career. Don't forget that Matt Barnes has already missed a slew of games before Redick went down.
The Clippers embark Wednesday on a seven-stop, 13-day trip which begins in Atlanta and continues with visits to Memphis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn and Washington. Odom, meanwhile, continues to work out on his own in anticipation of rejoining the Clippers, with whom he spent last season before a turbulent summer that saw him attached to a string of unflattering headlines in Hollywood's tabloid press.
After a sitdown with Odom last month at the team's practice facility, Clippers coach Doc Rivers has spoken optimistically about Odom's chances of landing a new rest-of-the-season deal.
Rivers went so far as telling NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper on Friday that he is "hoping things work out” with re-signing Odom.
"I honestly haven’t focused on it a lot," Rivers said in the interview. "But he’s somebody that I’ve always liked and I like him more now after hearing from Phil Jackson to Vinny [Del Negro] to all the players the type of guy he is in the locker room. When I hear that stuff, without saying exactly what I heard, you want him in your locker room.”
The Clippers, even before the injuries to Barnes and Redick, elected to keep their 15th roster spot open coming out of training camp for an in-season signing.
“There is not one bit of talk about time frame or anything like that,” Rivers told NBA.com. “I’m just going to play it by ear and see how he’s doing and go from there.
“We’re looking, but it’s not a desperate look right now. I do think we need one more player. It could be a big. It could be another point guard, just to have a third backup for the season. But I don’t tend to make moves that’ll make you stronger during the regular season, because then in the playoffs you shorten your rotation and that was a wasted move most of the time.”
34dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo