The Los Angeles Clippers introduced once and future Clipper Lamar Odom to the media today in what was the third biggest player introduction since I've been covering the team. In the past six seasons, only Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have had more fanfare, more media coverage, than Lamar, which is pretty amazing to me. Of course, Lamar's got plenty of history in Los Angeles, so he's a pretty big story.
As we've said all along, acquiring Odom while giving up Mo Williams is a great trade for the Clippers, provided that they are getting the player from before 2012, and not the guy that meandered through Dallas last season. We really, truly won't know until they get on the floor next season, but I'll say this -- he was saying all the right things today.
It's also worth noting that Vinny Del Negro, Andy Roeser and Gary Sacks all seem genuinely excited, maybe even a little giddy, at having added the 2011 Sixth Man Award winner. Whatever Odom said to them when they met with him, he convinced them that last season was a fluke and that he's "100% in" with the Clippers.
When Odom was playing for Team USA in the World Championships in Turkey two summers ago, I couldn't help but notice the contrast to his first stint as a Clipper. On a team comprised almost entirely of players under 24 years of age, Odom and Chauncey Billups provided a veteran presence. "Maturity" and "leadership" were not the words you would have used to describe Lamar's first four seasons in the league, during which time he was twice suspended for running afoul of the league's substance abuse policies. But all indications, from the media covering the team as well as the coaching staff, were that Odom was a a true team leader in Turkey, a guy the younger players looked up to (along with Billups) as someone who had won at the highest levels. It's amazing how things change.
You can't tell a lot from a press conference, but like I said, he said I the right things. He's clearly happy to be back in L.A. which has been his home since he was a 19 year old rookie. He's excited about the team and especially about his teammates: his first thought upon learning of the trade was "Good, now I won't have to face Blake Griffin." He knows he has something to prove. If his problems last season were all in his head, then he seems to be in a better frame of mind now.
But the proof will of course be on the court.
Other notes from Playa Vista:
- Three-headed front office Del Negro, Roeser and Sacks functioned well enough today. Del Negro was the spokesman for the front office today (a role that of course belonged to Neil Olshey while he was around). Del Negro's no Olshey, but he does fine in front of a microphone. Roeser and Sacks prefer to be in the background and didn't speak until Ramona Shelburne asked them a direct question.
- Speaking of which, the genesis of the Odom acquisition came when Roeser and Sacks were in Chicago at the pre-draft camp and they together ran into Donnie Nelson of the Mavs. The initially and jointly expressed their interest in Odom, a player they'd discussed as being a good fit for the team's needs, and it went from there.
- The club maintains that the go slow approach on finding a new GM is the right thing, as it allows them to focus their energies on building the roster. The logic being that given the timing of Olshey's departure, fasttracking a new GM hire would have distracted from the draft and free agency, and that taking care of the roster first was the top priority. I'm not sure I agree with the reasoning there, but that's their story and they're sticking to it.