Rambis will interview with T-Wolves early next week

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Lamar Odom programming for a brief update on Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis’ advancement in the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching search.

According to a source close to the situation, Rambis will have his second interview with the T-Wolves early next week.

As previously reported, Rambis is one of four known finalists in the search.

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Rambis update

Here are a few lines from a Yahoo story on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ coaching search:

“The Timberwolves are expected to begin interviewing finalists for their head-coaching position this weekend, league sources said. ABC-TV analyst and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson, Houston Rockets assistant Elston Turner and Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis are widely considered to make up the finalists pool with Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams a long-shot possibility. Jackson has been long thought to be the leading candidate for the job.”

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Buzz: Lamar update

I spoke with someone inside the Lakers organization who said Mitch Kupchak and Lamar Odom agent Jeff Schwartz have been in steady contact since the Lakers pulled their latest contract offer to Lamar last week.

Although the Lakers insider didn’t describe the contact as “negotiations” obviously they aren’t talking about summer vacation plans.

This jives with reports that talks have heated up in recent days, although the insider did say he didn’t sense anything had significantly changed.

On the other hand, the fact that they are talking means both sides are open to a resolution, and when two sides are motivated things can come together quickly.

In any event, I should be getting an update later this afternoon, and if anything is cooking I’ll post it as soon as I can.

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Kobe optimistic about re-signing Lamar

Kobe Bryant said he’s optimistic the Lakers can still re-sign Lamar Odom.

“I’m optimistic that he’ll be back,” Bryant said today at a news conference in Singapore, one stop on his six-country Asian tour. “He makes us a much, much stronger team.” The Lakers yanked their contract offer off the table as talks broke down with Odom’s agent Jeff Schwartz last week. The Lakers and the Miami Heat have made offers to Odom.

Meanwhile, Bryant said the Lakers’ signing of Ron Artest will aid the team next season. “I think Ron’s going to be a great addition to us,” Bryant said. “It’s about how well we play together. No matter how much talent you have, it’s about how you put those pieces of the puzzle together.”

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Artest reaches out to Odom

According to a story in the New York Daily News, Ron Artest said he has reached out to fellow Queens standout Lamar Odom, who remains a free agent after turning down the Lakers’ twin offers last week of $30 million over three years or $36 million over four. Artest said he hopes their neighborhood connection will persuade Odom to re-sign with the NBA champions.

“I hope that helps,” said Artest, who was interviewed after playing for his neighborhood team in a outdoor tournament in the Bronx. “I hope he comes back to play with us. I already reached out to him and will (again).”

Artest signed a five-year deal worth about $34 million earlier this month. He and Odom have played with and against each other since they were youngsters growing up in New York.

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What’s next for Odom?

We know two teams are bidding for the services of Lamar Odom, the Lakers and the Miami Heat. What we don’t know, as of this morning, is which team has the best shot at signing Odom. My guess is that he will spend the weekend deciding whether to take the Lakers’ offer of either $30 million over three years or $36 million over four or the Heat’s offer of the full mid-level exception ($34 million or so over five years). There’s no third option as far as I know. Portland isn’t in the picture at present, although the Trail Blazers could jump into the fray after losing out on signing Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap. Dallas apparently isn’t in the mix despite Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s expressed interest in Odom. So, it’s an either or situation for Odom, who must decide between the Lakers and Heat.

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Report: Lamar called Dr. Buss Thursday

Our good friend Jim Hill over at KCBS is reporting that Lamar Odom personally called Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss Thursday to try and rebuild any bridges damaged by Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, during contract negotiations.

Dr. Buss pulled his last offer to Odom off the table earlier this week after Schwartz didn’t respond back. Looks like Lamar might be taking charge of the negotiations, or at least trying to bring Dr. Buss and the Lakers back to the table.

Stay tuned.

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Odom update

Here are a few lines from an Associated Press story from Miami: “The Miami Heat, who traded Odom to the Lakers five years ago in the trade that brought Shaquille O’Neal(notes) to South Florida, have made the free agent forward an offer to return and help Dwyane Wade once again. The team has not revealed terms of the offer, although it’s believed to be a five-year package that could be worth around $35 million.”

Wade, who was a rookie when Odom played his one and only season in Miami in 2003-04, told the AP in a telephone interview: “I want Lamar to do what’s best for him and his family because we love him as family, but on the other hand, we want him back home, to come home. His house is still there. It’d be exciting to see what happens.”

Wade also told the AP he doesn’t need to call Odom in order to recruit him.

“Lamar already knows how I feel,” Wade said. “I really don’t know how to feel. He’s really taken time to deal with it, sit back. It’s a very important decision in his life. It could be about where he ends his career. … Lamar and I always had a great relationship. He’s always been the guy, one of the guys, that I thought really helped me as a young player.”

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Riley expresses interest in Odom

Miami team president Pat Riley hasn’t spoken to South Florida reporters since the NBA draft on June 25, but he took time to talk with Heat season ticket holders Thursday night. Some of what was said about courting Lamar Odom was picked up by our friends at the Sun-Sentinel. According to a reporter for the Ft. Launderdale newspaper:

“What was made clear in Riley’s private session was that the Heat’s interest in re-acquiring forward Lamar Odom from the Lakers is legitimate, with numbers being discussed that would approach the current Lakers’ free-agent offer that Odom has rejected, when accounting for Florida’s lack of state income tax and other options regarding payments.”

The Heat can offer Odom the mid-level exception, which works out to about $34 million over five seasons. It’s the same deal Ron Artest signed with the Lakers and Trevor Ariza took to replace Artest with the Houston Rockets.

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Kobe speaks to Lamar

Kobe Bryant was asked earlier this week on ESPN radio: Have you called Lamar Odom? What do you say to teammates who are going through free agency?

Said Bryant: “I have. How I handle this situation is, I communicate to them how much I care for them; our team in particular has grown extremely close, so we all have a very close bond. First and foremost, I wanna look out for them as a person, so it’s always important to me that they do what’s best for them and their family. At the same time, it’s important that they know how much I want them back, and how much I enjoy playing with them. And, I would love for us to come back and give another shot at this thing, but it’s very important for me that they do what’s right for them and what’s right for their family as well.”

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