Posted Date: April 16, 2014

Knicks sign forward Lamar Odom to multiyear deal

Lamar Odom, New York Knicks, Phil Jackson, Rob Mahoney
Lamar Odom may soon be a Knick. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Sport)

Lamar Odom is officially a Knick. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Sport)

The Knicks announced on Wednesday that the team had agreed to sign veteran forward Lamar Odom for the remainder of the season. Odom’s contract, as clarified by Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, also includes a second season of non-guaranteed salary.

The move — New York’s first formal order of business under new management — came just before the bell tolled on a disappointing season. If the timing seems curious that’s because it is; a recent back injury forced Odom to duck out of a deal with Baskonia, a team in the Spanish ACB League, and that same ailment (among other factors) will keep him sidelined in the Knicks’ final, meaningless game. There would be no reason at all to add Odom for that game anyway, making his acquisition at this late date all the more intriguing.

The Knicks’ real motivation: The non-guaranteed second season through which New York will have the option to retain Odom for the 2014-15 campaign. By signing him now the Knicks have effectively sidestepped all of the league’s rules regarding offseason contact between teams and free agents as they relate to Odom. He is a Knick for all intents and purposes even without logging a single minute, which in this case gives Jackson and team officials the very important means to gauge Odom’s injury status and frame of mind in the months to come.

The latter is an unfortunate but necessary concern given Odom’s recent history with NBA teams. It’s now been three years since Odom was in anything resembling fine basketball form. Since then, Odom disengaged completely during his season with the Mavs (despite the team’s best efforts to accommodate him), showed up to camp with the Clippers well over playing weight, was checked in and out of rehab for a drug problem and pled no contest to DUI charges.

A back injury is the least of his worries; Odom is long removed from the best years of his NBA career at this point, as he hasn’t been in a place where he could successfully live up his end of a contract. The Knicks clearly have some hope that Odom might stabilize in that regard, likely in part due to his long-lasting relationship with Jackson — Odom’s former coach during his most effective seasons.

Should Odom fail to meet New York’s standards, his potential signing will have been a mere formality. Non-guaranteed deals can be functionally wiped away with just a bit of paperwork, leaving the Knicks with very little risk in such an arrangement. If Odom is able to contribute, though, he could help ease New York into the triangle offense after his years of experience initiating it as a Laker. When committed, Odom is a versatile two-way player that any team would be lucky to have at a bargain salary.

That best-case scenario is one worth investing some time and effort in, no matter how unlikely it may be. New York’s hands are otherwise tied. Deep pockets can only get a capped-out team so far in the modern NBA; there are punitive and preventative measures built into the collective bargaining agreement to keep the richest teams from spending freely, forcing high-spending teams to get creative in both the kinds of players they sign and the contracted terms they sign them to. Trying out Odom over an extended term before he ever suits up for the Knicks is a means to do just that. This isn’t a home run swing with real assets at stake. It’s a value play at the bottom of the market — a vital arena from which the Knicks have been long absent.

Posted Date: April 16, 2014

Clippers’ Blake Griffin suspended for season finale after collecting 16th technical

Ben Golliver, Blake Griffin, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Timofey Mozgov
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin has averaged 24.1 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Clippers. (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been suspended one game without pay after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season during L.A.’s 117-105 home victory over Denver on Tuesday.

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Posted Date: April 16, 2014

Bucks to be sold for $550 million, but will remain in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Bucks
Herb Kohl

Sen. Herb Kohl purchased the Milwaukee Bucks in 1985. (Morry Gash/AP)

Sen. Herb Kohl has agreed to the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks — in principle — to hedge-fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. While not yet approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors, the $550 million deal was announced officially on Wednesday via press conference by Kohl, the Bucks, Edens and Lasry.

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Posted Date: April 16, 2014

Regular-season grades for all 30 teams

Ben Golliver
J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith and the Knicks failed to make the playoffs one year after a 54-win season. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

The end of the 2013-14 season is upon us. How has your favorite team fared? Below are grades for all 30 teams.

Note: Grades are primarily determined by performance relative to preseason expectations. They also take into account health-related issues, signings and trades made during the season and the impact of major offseason moves. Significant injuries to star players, especially those with multiyear implications, will be reflected in the grade and detailed in the accompanying explanations.

I handed out midseason grades in January. Those grades are included for reference.

(All stats and records are through April 15.)

’13-14 REVIEW: Award picks | Offbeat awards | FloppiesTop game-winners | Top dunks

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Posted Date: April 16, 2014

What to watch: NBA regular-season finale

2014 NBA playoffs
Dirk Nowitzki, Marc Gasol

The Mavericks and Grizzlies will square off for the West’s No. 7 seed tonight. (McClatchy-Tribune/Getty Images)

It’s the last day of the NBA regular season, but there’s still plenty to be decided before the playoffs. While the postseason’s 16-team field is already locked into place, seven of Wednesday night’s 15 games have playoff seeding implications. In fact, Pacers-Hawks and Blazers-Rockets are the only one first-round matchups set in stone.

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