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Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Source: Lamar Odom prefers Knicks

By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Who will Lamar Odom play for next season? That's currently out of his control. He's under contract with the Dallas Mavericks, who likely will trade him or waive him.

But a source with knowledge of Odom's thinking says the New York Knicks would be "on the top of his list" if the Queens native becomes a free agent.

Odom
Odom

"Lamar is big on being comfortable," the source said. "And New York is somewhere he can be comfortable."

The Knicks' interest in Odom is unclear at this point.

They likely will be limited in their spending this summer. New York is expected to use its mid-level exception to retain restricted free-agent Jeremy Lin, which would leave the organization with little money to spend on free agents.

It's also unclear at this point if Odom will become a free agent.

The Mavs are expected to attempt to trade Odom before June 29. Any team that has Odom on its roster on that date must buy him out for $2.4 million or otherwise accept responsibility for the full $8.2 million that Odom is scheduled to earn in 2012-13.

If Dallas can't deal Odom in a trade, it likely will waive him and be responsible for paying him $2.4 million in guaranteed money. That's something Dallas would rather avoid.

If Odom is waived by Dallas, he would be a free agent. In that scenario, he'd likely have to take a significant pay cut from the $8.2 million he was scheduled to make this season to sign with another team.

But if New York comes calling, Odom will be interested.

"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 makes sense that Odom would be open to a return to New York.

His versatility -- interior scoring and rebounding in particular -- would be of great value to the Knicks' second unit. He proved in Los Angeles that he can thrive off the bench in a supporting role on a team with stars in its starting five. Odom helped the Lakers win two titles in that role.

He's also coming off a season in which his value has taken a significant hit.

A rocky year in Dallas ended with Odom spending the final nine games of the regular season on the inactive list. The Mavericks placed Odom on the inactive list as a way to sever ties while retaining the ability to trade him.

The 33-year-old's stint in Dallas was heavy on drama and light on production. During halftime of his final game with the Mavs, Odom and team owner Mark Cuban had a heated exchange in the locker room.

Earlier in the season, Odom took a 10-game hiatus from the team for personal reasons. After the team placed Odom on the inactive list, Cuban said he'd hoped Odom's departure was "addition by subtraction."

The 13-year veteran averaged career lows of 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game in Dallas.

The source close to Odom said Odom is eager to put the experience past him. Odom has started offseason workouts already, with eyes on an Olympic roster spot and with the motivation to prove that he's a better player than the one who struggled through last season.

"It definitely won't be the fiasco that it was last year," the source said of Odom's approach to 2012-13.