Lamar Odom never really wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers, but a hurt ego because of the failed Chris Paul trade attempt led him to push for an exit, despite never really looking for one. Still, despite the very disappointing season with the Dallas Mavericks, no one expected it to end like this.
The Mavericks, struggling to hold on to the 7th spot in the Western Conference, expected much more from the 2011 NBA Sixth Man of the year. Somewhere along the way, between Rick Carlisle trying to keep the champions together, Odom even had a taste of D-League basketball. Basketball, NBA, everything having to do with what he’s paid nearly $9 million a year to do, didn’t seem that important any more.
The Mavs and Odom decided to part ways, but with a twist. Odom isn’t released from the team in order to sign with anyone else. He’s placed on the inactive list, and the Mavericks would still be able to trade him once the season is over, especially with the NBA draft coming up in mind. Any team that holds Odom’s contract by June 29 will have to buy out his contract (due $8.2 million for 2012-2013) for $2.4 million. Odom doesn’t look like a player who is worth that kind of money.
Suddenly, at 32, Odom posted career lows in everything. An outsider on this team from the start, filled with off court distractions that come along by being married to a Kardashian (so it seems to an outsider), to say Odom disappointed and never really meshed with his teammates would be the understatement of the year. Odom, a double-double kind of guy since the 2003-2004 season, averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He was shooting 35.2% from the field, 25.2% from beyond the arc and a pathetic %59.2 from the line.
On his last game for the team, Odom clocked only four minutes, grabbed one rebound and missed a field goal attempt. Rick Carlisle, who has been trying endless lineups, mixes and combinations this season, fighting offensive problems, injuries and simply a team that got too old in the blink of an eye after peaking last summer, gave up on trying to shake Odom of whatever he’s going through.
And the Mavs didn’t need a negative influence on team struggling to figure out how to recapture last postseason’s magic. Dirk Nowitzki can only do so much, while Jason Kidd has fallen to unfathomable depths in terms of his production and ability to both create shots from himself and for his teammates (34.6% from the field, career low in assists per minutes) and no suitable replacement for both Tyson Chandler and energetic J.J. Barea was found. Odom was supposed to fill in, partially, for Chandler, but wasn’t even close, not just in terms of numbers, but more importantly, with his influence.
Lamar Odom didn’t really come to play for the Dallas Mavericks this winter. His head never really reached the arena. His eyes looked vacant most of the times. The crowd turned to booing him pretty soon, as ‘loyal’ NBA fans tend to do very quickly. Right now, it’s not a question of where Odom will play basketball next season. It’s more like will Odom even play basketball next season.