- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Lamar Odom moved a step closer to his increasingly inevitable return to the NBA when he met with Los Angeles Clippers officials for two hours Friday, sources with knowledge of the meeting confirmed.
Although the sitdown was described as more of a check-up after Odom's tumultuous summer, with sources stressing that no deal is imminent, one source connected to the talks told ESPN.com that both sides have serious interest in making the reunion official after Odom played for the Clippers last season.
The source said Friday night: "I wouldn't say a deal [with the Clippers] is imminent, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen."
ESPN.com reported Thursday that the Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers were monitoring Odom's progress as closely as they can with interest in signing the enigmatic free-agent forward if Odom proves that his personal and legal issues are behind him.
Yahoo! Sports first reported Odom's meeting Friday with Clippers coach Doc Rivers and other team officials.
Odom has been working out for the past month, sources said, with an eye toward making a return to the floor in the second half of the season. But he's said to be ahead of schedule in terms of getting back into basketball shape, which appears to have accelerated the timetable.
The Clippers and Lakers both registered interest in signing Odom this past summer until his private life became a near-daily subject for the tabloid media. But the 33-year-old's positive history with both teams, sources say, has kept the door open for a return in L.A. as long as he can convince the teams that he's committed to resurrecting his NBA career after a worrying string of headlines that included allegations of drug use and an August arrest on a DUI charge.
The Clippers currently have 14 players on their roster. They have been considering several options for that 15th roster spot, sources say, which is among the reasons -- along with luxury-tax concerns -- that they kept the spot open coming out of training camp.
19hMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo