Odom waits, hopes he's set for Miami

Updated: August 23, 2003, 6:27 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

The deadline is Tuesday for the Los Angeles Clippers to either match or pass on Lamar Odom's six-year, $65 million offer sheet from the Miami Heat ... and Odom insists that even he doesn't know which way the Clippers are leaning.

Odom had to settle for phone conversations recently with Clippers owner Donald Sterling and general manager Elgin Baylor after Odom's request for face-to-face sitdowns -- to urge the Clippers to let him go -- were rebuffed.

"All I can do now," Odom said, "is hope I get the news in a few days that I will be playing for the Heat. I've spoken to the owner and Elgin by phone to let them know my desire to play in Miami. I've also tried to meet with Elgin in person a couple of times, but I've had no luck."

Odom told ESPN.com earlier this month that he would be seeking a face-to-face meeting with Baylor to press the Clippers not to match the offer sheet. In the days before Odom received Miami's offer, Baylor had told Odom personally that the Clippers intended to match any offer.

Whether that continues to be the Clippers' stance remains to be seen, as L.A. steadfastly has refused to comment on the Odom situation. Because Odom is a restricted free agent, L.A. has a 15-day window to make its decision on the offer sheet, which was signed Aug. 11.

After more than two decades without signing a high-priced free agent or retaining a marquee player, Sterling has committed $124 million this off-season by matching offers to restricted free agents Elton Brand (six years, $82 million from Miami) and Corey Maggette (six years, $42 million from Utah). Letting Odom go to Miami would represent significant savings for Sterling, but that would make Odom the fourth significant L.A. free agent this summer -- along with center Michael Olowokandi, point guard Andre Miller and sharpshooter Eric Piatkowski -- to leave the club without compensation.

Matching the Odom offer, however, comes with potential risks as well, besides taking Sterling's summer spending to an unprecedented $190 million. Because of Odom's recent injury history, and two substance-abuse suspensions in four NBA seasons, he represents a $65 million gamble for whichever team secures his rights next week.

"I'm just trying to let the Clippers understand it's my time to move on," Odom told ESPN.com earlier this month, saying his main motivation is the chance to realize his long-held goal of playing for Heat coach Pat Riley. "It's in my best interests and it's in their best interests.

"I'm looking forward to a fresh new start, playing for the Heat and coming back home to the East Coast. I think it's about time that I get my career off the ground and I think Miami is where I need to go. Hopefully the Clippers will understand where I'm coming from."

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics