Lamar Odom’s reign (of disinterest?) in Dallas came to a screeching halt today as it was announced this morning that the forward came to an agreement with the Dallas Mavericks to step away from the team for the rest of the season.
“The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it’s in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team,” Odom said in a statement first reported by ESPN’s Mark Stein. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.”
Odom wasn’t granted his outright release due to contractual issues that would take up some of the Mavericks’ impending salary cap space if they were to simply cut the player. By agreeing for Odom to “step away from the team” and be labeled as inactive for the rest of the season, the Mavs keep the option of potentially trading Odom down the line in order to save that cap room.
Though his status will officially be ‘inactive’ for the rest of the season, most would argue he has been just that all year long.
Lamar Odom’s struggles since his trade to Dallas in December are well documented. Not only was the forward averaging career lows per game in points (6.6), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.2) field goal percentage (35.2%), steals (0.4), blocks (0.4), and minutes (20.5), but his general indifference on the court and bench for the Mavericks was one of the most grating experiences Mavs fans have ever been put through.
Coming off a season where he won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, Dallas traded for him for nearly nothing. With his unique blend of skill, Odom was supposed to pair with Jason Terry to create one of the more vaunted benches in NBA history while easing the heavy scoring and minutes load for Dirk Nowitzki.
Odom did none of that.
The Mavericks waited for Odom to come around, but they were perhaps too patient. Even though his lack of effort on the court, and general apathetic attitude toward everything while in Dallas, was an instant annoyance to fans and media, Odom was never going to be considered a ‘problem’ for the Mavericks until franchise leaders Nowitzki or Jason Kidd had some kind of negative opinion on the matter. That happened this weekend. Saturday night, Nowitzki showed some frustration regarding a line of questioning about Odom. Monday morning, Odom was gone.
Odom made the cardinal sin of rocking the boat and that won’t fly on the USS Mark Cuban.
Moving forward, the hope has to be that Lamar Odom’s absence will be the ultimate case of addition by subtraction. The Mavericks obviously have deeper issues than the ones Odom presented, but the removal of his negative vibe will be like getting overdue work done on a car. It may break down eventually anyway, but a tune up certainly can’t hurt.
Examining the Mavericks’ roster of players who still want to play basketball, it seems that Shawn Marion and Brian Cardinal will combine to take up the extra minutes at power forward behind Nowitzki. Perhaps the mobility of Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright will make them an option, as well.
No matter which direction the Mavericks choose to take, almost any option will be better than Odom considering his puny production.
From the start, it was clear that Lamar Odom wasn’t happy about being in Dallas. He failed to even attempt to hide his disdain for the Lakers not wanting him. The Mavs jumped at the opportunity to bring in a player with his long history of quality play at such an efficient price. They did everything they could to meet Odom in the middle, but like any relationship, it will never work if both sides don’t put forth the effort.
Without being an insider in the Mavs’ front office or on the roster, it’s difficult to know what specifically did or didn’t work with him, but Odom was simply a failed experiment in Dallas.
Lamar Odom couldn’t thrive outside of Hollywood, but more importantly, just wasn’t made for Texas.