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The NBA, A-through-Z: (Lamar) Odom

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Lamar Odom, during perhaps his final 'home' game in Los Angeles (Getty Images)

The free agents have just about all been signed up. The NBA is down to a series of Instagram photos from moving yachts and crossed fingers from worried teams hoping their players stay safe in the summer off. There’s nothing going on, save for that clock on the wall that is ticking down to the 2013-14 season.

And it’s moving SO SLOWLY.

This is why we’ve decided to pick 26 things we’re looking forward to in 2013-14. Or, at the very least, 26 things that intrigue us as we wait out an offseason that feels like it has thousands of miles left to cross before we can get to Halloween and opening week. Because there are 26 letters in the alphabet – you guessed, NBA A-through-Z.

We continue with (Lamar) Odom.

It may seem like a massive swatch of time, now that unending press saturation and social media tend to chew up and spit out any bit of news or rumor with increasing speed and efficiency, but 27 months really isn’t that long of a stretch. It was just 27 months ago that Lamar Odom was coming off of a brilliant season of basketball with the Los Angeles Lakers, contributing 14.4 points and a combined 11.7 rebounds/assists to the defending champs in just 32 minutes a game. Odom started just 35 games that year, and as a result he was awarded with the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.

Now, in the days when a 33-year old veteran of Odom’s talents could seemingly be had for a song on the open free agent market, you barely hear a whisper about the guy. Nary a basketball-related rumor, hardly a sniff, nothing in any news search that has anything to do with basketball itself. In that news’ absence waddles a list of gossip-y “news” bits about his relationship with someone who is famous for being the sister of someone that we’re not entirely sure how they got famous in the first place oh yeah never mind sex tape/big butt.

It’s all incredibly depressing. And it gives you the impression that Odom is merely waiting out the offseason, hoping to score a deal with a team sometime after the season starts in order to possibly avoid either work during training camp, or the indignity of a training camp release in favor of someone who has never had his own basic cable trash show. Apparently Odom only wants to play if he’s working with a team in Los Angeles, a nice comedown from his previously stated wishes to only make millions of dollars in either New York City, Miami, or Los Angeles. Really goin’ about this the right way.

That’s assuming he wants anything to do with basketball at this point.

Odom just about gave up when he was sent to the then-New Orleans Hornets in a trade that the NBA eventually overruled. Soon after he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, a deal that could have given the Mavs an all-around dagger to provide a perfect complement to a forward tandem already featuring the long and savvy Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. Instead, Odom pouted. His shot selection was awful on its way to a 35 percent mark from the field – and remember, this is the guy that shot 53 percent the year before. After being called out by Mavs owner Mark Cuban during halftime of a game in April of 2011 for listless play, he was released.

Back in his adopted home of Los Angeles last season, Odom wasn’t much better – even with an entire offseason, no lockout and/or “I love L.A.”-excuses to hold him back. He shot below 40 percent, made just 47 percent of his free throws, averaged only 7.4 points per 36 minutes, and turned the ball over at an unacceptable rate. Given the chance to wipe the slate clean in the playoffs, he instead needed 30 shots to score 30 points in the 2013 postseason, notching nearly as many turnovers (10) as assists (11).

As a result, I doubt very much new Clipper head coach Doc Rivers wants this guy around.

And it’s sad. I’ve no interest in documenting the off-court nastiness that seems to walk arm-in-arm with Odom these days, because I can’t be bothered to click on the links or thumb through the periodical while waiting in line at the grocery store (I mean, people know me in this town; I’ve got appearances to keep up), and I’m guessing most reading an NBA blog in August aren’t clicking those links either.

We just want Lamar Odom back. The guy that could start, extend, key, and finish the fast break. The guy that could do it all. Never a Hall of Famer or even an All-Star, just someone unique and exciting.

Even in NBA circles, 27 months shouldn’t be enough time to completely destroy a career. It shouldn’t be that long of an amount of time. Somehow, in the space between playing award-winning basketball, and playing himself out of the league, Lamar Odom turned 27 months into an eternity.

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