Tomorrow’s notebook today …
Lamar Odom practiced with his teammates Monday for the first time since they returned form China three weeks ago and said he hoped to play in the Clippers’ regular-season opener Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Odom also said he hoped he would be the “Lamar of 2010.” He wouldn’t say whether he believed he had something to prove to his detractors. He couldn’t say when his knees began to ache and declined to say whether he was overweight.
“I’ve won on the highest level,” he said during an occasionally pointed and often humorous 6 1/2-minute conversation with reporters. “After that, you just prove to yourself, can you do it again? I’m a competitor, a professional competitor, so …
“If it was chess, I would want to beat you. If it was a debate, I would want to beat you. I compete for a living. That’s what I do. If it’s (video games), I want to win. Game of cards. Shooting game. I compete against myself for a living.
“That’s what I’ve done since I can remember. So, having something to prove to myself, that’s always. If me and you were to race right now, I’d knock you down and try to beat you. I want to win. That’s what’s got me here.”
Perhaps that’s true, but the road has been a bumpy one recently for Odom.
In fact, he revealed last week he sought counseling during the summer, after a failed season with the Dallas Mavericks, after he demanded the Lakers trade him last December, after they tried and failed to deal him to the New Orleans Hornets.
Odom arrived for his second stint with the Clippers after a trade with Dallas last summer with his trademark smile and good humor. He also appeared to be carrying some extra baggage on his 6-foot-10 frame to start training camp.
After playing three exhibitions, including two in China, he went to the sideline because of sore knees. He finally returned to the practice court Monday and said he participated in “a little more than half” of the team’s workout.
“Feel good,” he said, smiling. “Still know how to play.”
Odom’s demeanor changed asked about the doubts of others.
“Part of our business is that people doubt you,” Odom said.
In a moment, he was cheerful again, laughing and joking.
“I was awesome,” Odom said, smiling as he recounted his play during the Clippers’ scrimmage. “Proving all the doubters wrong, hitting shots. Making passes. I hit a skyhook today, right in their face, all the doubters.”
Coach Vinny Del Negro said he would wait to see how Odom fares in today’s practice before saying whether he could play Wednesday against Memphis. Del Negro also said he’d increase Odom’s workload in today’s workout.
Del Negro said there continues to be no timetable for guard Chauncey Billups’ debut after he suffered a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury last Feb. 16. Billups didn’t practice with his teammates Monday and is not expected to play Wednesday.
There also is no estimate as to when backup forward Grant Hill will be fit to make his Clippers debut. Hill said last Wednesday he would be sidelined for at least two more weeks because of a bone bruise in his right knee.