SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Clippers remain interested in signing Lamar Odom as part of searching for a roster move as an additional insurance policy for the playoffs, with Doc Rivers telling NBA.com he is “hoping things work out” between the team and Odom.
Rivers, the coach and head of basketball operations, was impressed by Odom’s attitude and condition – “He was actually in pretty good shape, and that surprised me” – when they met Nov. 15 at Clippers headquarters. No further visits are planned, Rivers said, but he has moved the process forward by talking with Phil Jackson, Odom’s former coach with the Lakers, and Vinny Del Negro, Odom’s coach last season with the Clippers before Odom became a free agent.
“I’m hoping if things work out, yeah,” Rivers said Friday at Sleep Train Arena, where the Clippers beat the Kings 104-98. “But I just don’t know. I know there’s other teams involved, I think. I honestly haven’t focused on it a lot. But he’s somebody that I’ve always liked, and I like him more now after hearing from Phil Jackson to Vinny 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.”
Odom, a popular teammate in previous stints with both Los Angeles teams, is coming off two bad seasons, with the Mavericks and Clippers, and since the end of 2013-14 has been the center of troubling reports about off-court issues. Still, the Clippers, and perhaps others, remain interested, without any timeline for a decision.
“There is not one bit of talk about time frame or anything like that,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to play it by ear and see how he’s doing and go from there.”
The Clippers are hoping to fill their vacant roster spot at some point, probably via free agency or waivers while not seeing any trade opportunities at the moment. Waiting until much later in the season to make a move is a possibility, one reason they don’t see the need for a quick decision on Odom.
“We’re looking, but it’s not a desperate look right now,” Rivers told NBA.com. “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.”
The Clippers began the season with good depth, but forward Matt Barnes has missed nine of the 17 games with leg and eye injuries and now both starting guards could be out when the Pacers visit Staples Center on Sunday. Chris Paul missed Friday’s victory over the Kings, forcing Darren Collison into the opening lineup, and J.J. Redick hurt his right (shooting) wrist in the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. X-rays were negative, ruling out a break, but an MRI is possible to confirm the sprain.