Lamar Odom (back) returns to U.S.
After playing in just two games, Lamar Odom's comeback in Spain has been derailed by a back injury.
Odom's Spanish club announced Saturday that he has "finished his present contract" after the NBA veteran's U.S.-based doctors ruled him unfit to play for at least a month. Odom left Spain for New York earlier this week with the club's permission to get a second opinion.
Because Odom originally signed only a two-month contract with Laboral Kutxa Baskonia, sources said, it appears to be a long shot that he'll return before the end of the Spanish season.
But Baskonia, in a club statement, said it "leaves open the possibility" of re-signing Odom when he recovers. And Odom himself insisted in a thank-you message to the club's fans that he's approaching his rehab from the lower-back injury as if he's "still in representation" of Baskonia.
"Now the journey's not over," Odom told the team's website. "I'm going to take care of this injury. ... I'm going to [recover] here [in the States] to try to get back on the court and give the people of Vitoria a show."
After his long layoff, Odom signed the two-month deal with Baskonia on Feb. 18. But he played in only two games for the Vitoria-based club that has sent the likes of Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Tiago Splitter and Jose Calderon to the NBA, logging just 23 minutes in those appearances.
"Me, Lamar Odom, as an athlete, I'm a little embarrassed," Odom said. "But at the same time, I'm proud to be able to say that I'm hurt and have a team that understands that I'm injured and that's still supportive. It means a lot. It helps me on and off the court."
Earlier this week, Baskonia issued a statement saying Odom had permission to leave to see a back specialist in New York after initially undergoing tests in Spain.
The two-month contract does include an option for Baskonia to extend the deal through the rest of the Spanish season, which has another two months to run. Such deals typically contain out clauses that allow established veterans such as Odom to return to the NBA if the opportunity arises, but ESPN.com reported last month that Odom's plan was to play out the rest of the 2013-14 campaign in Europe before determining whether to attempt an NBA comeback.
Odom appeared close to a return to the NBA in November, when new Clippers coach Doc Rivers invited him to the team's practice facility to gauge the state of his game and well-being after a tumultuous summer in his personal life. But the Clippers ultimately decided to sign three of Odom's veteran peers instead: Stephen Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu and Sasha Vujacic.
Although only Turkoglu has stuck with the Clippers, Odom unexpectedly decided to relaunch his career far removed from the NBA spotlight in Vitoria-Gasteiz, where he teamed up with a familiar NBA face in Andres Nocioni.
The Clippers and Lakers both registered interest in signing Odom last summer until his private life became a near-daily subject for the tabloid media. Odom's divorce from reality TV star Khloe Kardashian was made official in December.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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