Phil on Odom: Good 'risk' to take

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
10:00
AM ET
Lamar Odom is expected to join the Knicks at their practice facility by the end of the month, according to a source with knowledge of the veteran forward’s plans.

Odom has been in Los Angeles working out and undergoing physical therapy to strengthen his back, the source said. Odom’s short stint playing in Spain earlier this season ended due to a back injury.

Phil Jackson said earlier this month he expected Odom to be at the Knicks' facility at some point over the past week. It is unclear why Odom was instead in Los Angeles, but he should be working out at the practice facility by the last week in June.

[+] EnlargePhil Jackson, Lamar Odom
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesPhil Jackson coached Lamar Odom in Los Angeles.
At that point, the Knicks training staff and front office will get a chance to work with Odom and see firsthand what the 34-year-old can bring to the floor.

Jackson explained earlier this month his rationale for signing Odom, whom he coached for five seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We know he’s a really good basketball player," Jackson said. "If he wants to put himself back together in a basketball life, he’s got a chance to do this by having a whole summer to work at it and get himself back in basketball condition so he can play. He’s told me that's what he wanted to do. Having a relationship with him, I figure this is a pretty good risk/reward situation for us."

The Knicks signed Odom on the final day of the regular season as Jackson’s first personnel move. According to a league source, Odom’s deal contains an unguaranteed option for next season. It will be up to the Knicks to exercise the option.

This gives the team an opportunity to work Odom out and determine his fitness before committing to him for the 2014-15 season.

It is unclear exactly when the Knicks would have to exercise the option, but the upcoming trial period is important for Odom, winner of the 2010-11 sixth man award. If Odom can show Jackson and the rest of the Knicks staff he’s in shape and ready to contribute, New York will have a versatile veteran on the end of its bench who has won two titles.

If Odom fails to show he’s ready to play in the NBA again, the Knicks can simply release him or include him in a trade as a mechanism to help salaries match.

Odom was traded from the Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks after Jackson's final season as Lakers coach in 2010-11 and has since struggled to approach the same level of production he managed under the Zen Master.

Odom's last stint in the NBA was in 2012-13 with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers and Lakers expressed interest in signing Odom at various points in 2013-14 after a tumultuous summer off the floor that included his eventual divorce from reality TV star Khloe Kardashian.

During the 2013 offseason, Odom was arrested on a DUI charge and reportedly dealt with substance-abuse issues.

Both the Clippers and Lakers ultimately passed on signing Odom, leading the veteran to make his return in Spain, where he played for Laboral Kutxa Baskonia in the Spanish ACB for just two games.

Question: What are your expectations for Lamar Odom this season?

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