Lamar Odom plans NBA comeback, yet signs with Spanish club

lamar-odomLamar Odom is on the verge of launching his basketball comeback in Spain, as the 34-year-old has reached an agreement with a Spanish club, Baskonia.

Saski Baskonia, S.A.D., known as Laboral Kutxa for sponsorship reasons, is a Spanish professional basketball club from the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The club’s name sponsor is the Basque bank Laboral Kutxa.

Well-known players who have played with the club have included Velimir Perasović, José Calderón, Andrés Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Igor Rakočević, Luis Scola, Goran Dragić, Tiago Splitter, and Mirza Teletović.

The club announced that the former Los Angeles Lakers forward has a two-month contract, which includes an option to extend the deal for the remainder of the season, to fill a roster spot that opened up because of injury.

Odom, who averaged a career-low 4.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Clippers last season, has agreed to sign with the team.

Such deals typically contain out clauses that allow established veterans such as Odom to return to the NBA if the opportunity arises, but sources told on Monday that Odom’s plan is to play out the rest of this season in Spain before determining whether to attempt an NBA comeback.

“We’re very happy to have signed a very important player who has had a long and fruitful career in the NBA,” Laboral Kutxa president Josean Querejeta said in a statement.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last couple of days to make this happen, we felt we needed a boost and had to break the collective cloud that has been hanging over us over the last while so we could get back to winning.”

A free agent since completing the 2012-13 season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Odom appeared close to a return to the NBA in November, when new Clippers coach Doc Rivers invited Odom to the team’s practice facility to gauge the state of his game and well-being following a tumultuous summer.

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, sources say Odom has decided to relaunch his career far removed from the NBA spotlight in the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, where he’ll team 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.

The news that Odom was in talks with the Spanish club was first reported Monday by leading European basketball correspondent David Pick.

Odom played 14 seasons in the NBA, for LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Miami Heat, and Dallas Mavericks.

Never an All-Star, Odom still averaged solid numbers in his first 12 seasons in the league. He holds career averages of 13.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg in 33.4 mpg, appearing in 961 career NBA games (starting in 684).


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