Heading into the Los Angeles Clippers' season opener on Oct. 31, we will tackle some of the pressing questions facing the team this season. Today, we ask which Lamar Odom will the Clippers get this season?
Lamar Odom laughs when the question is asked. He knows he played terribly last season in his forgettable 50-game stint for the Dallas Mavericks. He also knows the previous 12 seasons he was a far better player, including his 2010-11 campaign, which ended with a Sixth Man of the Year award and probably should have included his first All-Star selection.
But his time in Dallas was so recent and so bad, it raises the question, which Odom will the Clippers get this season?
"Which one do you think?" Odom asked last week. "The one you saw for 12 years or the one you saw for three months?"
As much as Odom would like everyone, especially in Los Angeles, to simply side with the player they have known for 12 years, the answer isn't that simple. Odom isn't the same player he was during those 12 seasons. He's older and, well, let's face it, bigger.
Perhaps the most jarring sight of the Clippers’ training camp so far is the physique of Odom. He's certainly not as big as the jokes on Twitter would have you believe, but he's nowhere near where he should be. He's in worse shape than he was last season when he said he was in the worst shape of his career.
That's not exactly the first impression you want to make as you embark on a reclamation project and save your career in the last year of your contract.
Odom's play through the first two exhibition games haven't helped his cause much either as he has combined for just four points on 1-for-8 shooting with 11 rebounds and no assists.
It's early and Odom probably will play himself back into respectable shape during the season and find a comfort level with his new teammates but he's far from convincing anyone that he will be the consistent 10 point-10 rebound player off the bench he was with the Lakers.
Odom says he believes he is in a happier place now than he was last season when he was part of the failed trade for Chris Paul to the Lakers and subsequently demanded to be traded anyway. He said he simply wasn't himself last year but is finding himself again and will return to his old ways once the season starts. Well, that's the plan, anyway.
"Sometimes when we go through certain things, other things we've been through in the past might come up and resurface," Odom said. "This summer I've learned a lot about myself. I've been through a lot and I've learned how to channel my energy and my thoughts and how I think the right way. I've become a lot stronger over the last 12 months. I've been through a lot. I've lost some of the close people to me, buried a child, won championships and got married in front of the world."
All those experiences have lead Odom back to the Clippers, where he was initially drafted into the NBA in 1999. He might not be same player he was then, but he says he thinks returning to Los Angeles will go a long way in returning to the form he had the last time he was in the city.
"Sometimes in order to do what we want and do what we expect of ourselves and make good decisions, we have to be in that happy place," Odom said. "You have to be in the right place mentally and I'm in that place."