Of Jamison and Odom and the Clippers

USA TODAY Sports

According to a report, the Clippers are close to signing Antawn Jamison, which likely means that they are passing on Lamar Odom. Might Odom's alleged off-court issues have influenced that decision?

[Note by Steve Perrin, 08/26/13 2:54 PM PDT ] According to Shelburne's twitter, Jamison is a fait accompli, signed to a one year vet's minimum deal. I'll have more on that shortly.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA is reporting that the Los Angeles Clippers are close to a deal with Antawn Jamison. Last week, Brad Turner of the LA Times tweeted that the Clippers preferred Lamar Odom to Jamison and were waiting for Odom to accept a veteran's minimum contract. If both reports are taken at face value (and to be clear, few reporters are more reliable on LAC news than Shelburne and Tunrner) the implication is that the Clippers have decided to move on from Odom.

Of course, this wasn't the only recent "news" (using the term loosely) item related to these potential Clippers. Celebrity gossip web site TMZ has also been reporting that Odom has a drug problem for which his wife, Kholoe Kardasian would like him to seek help. According to the report, family and friends recently staged an intervention to try to get Lamar to enter rehab.

I'm hesitant to even mention the TMZ report. At the very least it has clearly been sensationalized, which makes me question the entire thing. The word "abuse" is used in the headline and the word "hardcore" appears twice in the body of the article -- but always in a deceptive manner. The phrase "hardcore drug abuse" could be taken to mean abuse of hardcore drugs, which would imply something very bad indeed. Or it could be taken to mean "hardcore abuse of drugs" while using "hardcore" in a more colloquial sense of "frequent" -- an interpretation that could mean that Lamar has been smoking a lot of pot, or at the very least more pot than Khloe condones.

Later in the article it mentions Lamar's use of "hardcore recreational drugs" -- which seems to me to be an oxymoron. Obviously we're not dealing with hard and fast definitions here, but in my mind "hardcore drugs" and "recreational drugs" are two different things -- which leaves me confused about "hardcore recreational drugs."

So take the TMZ report, which is clearly written for maximum controversy, with a salt lick, as you should do with any report from TMZ.

But if we connect some dots, one does wonder if Lamar's issues -- and possibly just the appearance of those issues -- might have something to do with a renewed focus on Jamison. All other things being equal, teams will always try to avoid controversy. It might be a bit hypocritical of the Clippers (or the Lakers for that matter) to hold Lamar's overly public life against him when in fact it's a primary reason that he wants to be in L.A. and limits his opportunities with other teams. Even so, NBA teams don't want their players making headlines for affairs and trashing camera equipment and certainly not for this latest thing -- while Lamar's life is on camera. For the next five years the Clippers have a pair of choir boy cover boys and they've been actively discussing "character" since drafting Blake Griffin. Infidelity and drugs are a bad fit with the family-friendly images of Chris Paul and Griffin.

The counter-argument is that Lamar was, by all accounts, a model teammate last season. He was universally well-liked in the locker room and the coaching staff had nothing but positive things to say about him once he worked his way into shape. Chemistry in the locker room would seem to have more direct bearing on a team than headlines in the tabloids, so if the ultimate goal here is to choose a third big who's talented enough to help but also a fit off the court, I'm not convinced that Lamar's TMZ troubles are the biggest issue. Lamar worked out fine last year, even though TMZ reports that he was in rehab last August. His track record as a model teammate last year should count for something, it seems to me.

Maybe I'm reading too much into all of this. Maybe Doc Rivers has a great feeling about Jamison and is valuing outside shooting above other factors. Maybe the report on Jamison will turn out to be premature. There's even an outside chance that the Clippers could end up signing both Jamison and Odom.

Most importantly, let's hope that Lamar gets the help he needs if indeed there is a problem.

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