It's rare, but in professional sports second chances do happen. On Saturday, the Mavericks proved it by sending Lamar Odom back to the Los Angeles Clippers, who drafted him No. 4 overall in 1999. Nine years ago, after Odom walked away from Hollywood's B-club to join Miami Heat, he referred to his first four seasons with the Clippers as basketball hell. Nobody ever imagined he'd be glad to return, especially after winning a pair of titles with the Lakers.
But Odom's return via a four-team trade isn't the first time an NBA prodigal son has returned to the franchise that made him an NBA star. In 2008, after a four-year absence in Denver and Detroit, Allen Iverson was re-signed by the 76ers prior to the 2010 season. He eventually become unhappy with his new role as a bench player and was released after taking a leave of absence from the team. Despite Iverson's bad ending in Philadelphia, here are five other NBA superstars who could benefit from a return to the franchises that drafted them.
5. Steve Nash- Phoenix Suns
Before Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, there was Nash and Dirk Nowitzki. However, owner Mark Cuban was unwilling to match Phoenix's six-year $63 million offer to Nash in 2004. After Nash signed with the Suns, with whom he played his first two seasons, the Mavericks championship plans were drastically delayed.
Together, they had begun challenging the Spurs and Lakers atop the Western Conference. Apart, they carved out their own Hall of Fame legacies on rival franchises. Now that Deron Williams appears poised to team up with Dwight Howard in Brooklyn, a route for Nash's return to Phoenix and a final run at the title he seeks has been cleared.
Despite being one year younger than Jason Kidd, age hasn't had nearly the effect on his game as it's had on the Mavericks former starting point guard. While Nash's scoring average dipped slightly, he still managed to score 12.5 points per game and averaged 10.7 assists. Last season, Kidd averaged 6.2 points and 5.5 assists per game.
4. Joe Johnson- Boston Celtics
Johnson never really had an opportunity to prove himself in The Garden. Midway through his rookie season, the 20-year old guard was traded to Phoenix for Tony Delk and Rodney Rodgers. In Phoenix, he quickly flourished into one of the league's best three point shooting threats before becoming the Hawks franchise building block in 2005.
Now the Celtics may lose Ray Allen, the league's all-time three point shooting leader in free agency as a result of his rocky relationship with Rondo. With Johnson, who is six years younger than Allen, in the mix, the Celtics could delay their rebuilding process.
Unfortunately, barring the Hawks amnestying the most burdensome contract in the league, this is only a pipe dream.
3. Kevin Garnett- Minnesota Timberwolves
Garnett is arguably the most loyal player in the NBA. For 12 years, the former NBA MVP was committed to winning a title in Minnesota. But thanks to his loyalty for 12 seasons as well as his night-in-and-night-out intensity, the Timberwolves sent him to a title-ready franchise and Garnett remains as beloved in Timberwolves country as Iverson is in Philadelphia.
By the time, the three-year contract Garnett recently signed with Boston expires, he'll be 39 years old, therefore it's very doubtful he'll be able to contribute much to Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love as they enter the prime of their careers.
2. Pau Gasol- Atlanta Hawks
Although he was traded on Draft Day, Gasol was originally 2001's third overall pick by the Hawks. However, this scenario may actually take place if the Hawks and Lakers agree on an exchange between Gasol and Josh Smith that has been rumored recently. The Hawks need a versatile seven-foot center and the Lakers desire to get more athletic, younger and appeals to Orlando's Howard by acquiring hisformer AAU teammate.
1. LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers
On James' Late Show with David Letterman appearance, the witty host immediately jumped to the question that will be swirling be on everyone's mind when James becomes a free agent in 2014.
Well, now that you've got this out of your system, are you ready to go back to Cleveland and play some ball? quipped Letterman.
However, Letterman's show wasn't the first time James has addressed a possible return to Cleveland.
Back in mid-February, James sparked a media frenzy with his reply to a question asking whether he'd consider returning to Cleveland as a free agent in the future.
I think it would be great. It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. ... I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense. said James
It would mean mending fences with owner Dan Gilbert, who failed to come through on his vow to win a title before the 'self-proclaimed King James'. However, it may also be a more talented roster led by 2011 Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, 2012 rookie Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. In addition, given the 180-degree turn Odom's attitude towards the Clippers organization has taken, Cleveland fans can dream that one day they will 'Witness' James finish the job by turning the wine and gold Cavaliers into world champions.
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