Dallas Mavericks: Lamar Odom
A tweet from ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher indicated that the former Sixth Man of the Year has owned up for his forgettable stint in Dallas five months after it ended:
Lamar Odom, unprompted, told me he'd like to apologize to Mark Cuban and Mavs fans for not being himself. Felt it was beyond his power.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) September 28, 2012
Asked about Odom's apology Friday evening, Cuban declined comment.
The Mavs acquired Odom from the Lakers last December, but the forward arrived in Dallas out of shape and in a fragile mental state. He averaged career lows of 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds with the Mavs, his worst season as a pro.
His disappointing stay came to an end when Cuban dismissed Odom from the team after a confrontation between the two at halftime of the Mavs' game at Memphis on April 7.
Dallas dealt Odom to the Los Angeles Clippers in a four-team trade this offseason that created financial flexibility for the Mavs.
SportsCenter's Robert Flores and Stephen A. Smith engage in a spirited debate over whether Lamar Odom quit on the Mavericks or if other factors were involved.
Smith and Tim Legler also discuss Odom's potential return to L.A.
Carter’s role changed when the Mavs had to adjust the rotation to make up for Odom’s absence. With Shawn Marion playing the vast majority of the minutes at power forward when Dirk Nowitzki rests, as was the case during the Mavs’ title run, Carter now comes off the bench and plays almost solely small forward.
“It gives us another attacker out there at the small forward position,” coach Rick Carlisle said, “so that’s a plus.”
That’s putting it mildly based on Carter’s recent production. He has averaged 13.3 points on 46.8 percent shooting in the last eight games, dating to the night in Memphis when Mark Cuban made the decision to get rid of Odom after their heated halftime conversation. Carter has put up an average of 20 points in the Mavs’ last three games, including scoring all of his team-high 19 points in the second half of Friday’s 104-94 win over the Golden State Warriors.
There were long stretches after the All-Star break when it looked like there wasn’t much life left in Carter’s 35-year-old legs. That’s no longer a concern, not after watching Carter have a handful of highlight-reel, high-above-the-rim flashbacks to vintage Vinsanity this week.
“I’ve taken the time to really take care of myself to make sure I’m ready and make sure I’m healthy,” Carter said. “I didn’t want to not be ready for this moment -- and that’s the playoffs. Just make sure I’m in my rhythm and make sure my body is feeling good. And I feel great.”
He looks great in his new role, which allows the 20,000-plus-point career scorer to utilize his quickness against bigger defenders. Carter’s 3-point range also spaces the floor for Jason Terry and Nowitzki to work when they’re on the floor with him.
“Like I told them from the beginning, I really don’t care what my role is, where he puts me on the floor, how he puts me in the game,” said Carter, an eight-time All-Star whose sole goal at this point of his career is to earn his first championship ring. “Just know when it’s my turn, I’m going to come in and be ready to play. I’ve been that way, and I’ve just tried to step my aggression up just a little more."
Carter adds that he’s not trying to step on any toes, but that’s far from an issue. The Mavs, who rank in the NBA’s bottom third in offensive efficiency, need him to be in attack mode.
Carlisle has emphasized to Carter that being aggressive is a major part of his job description. It isn’t a coincidence that the Mavs have scored 100 points in four straight games -- for just the second time this season -- and hit triple digits in six of the last seven games.
“He’s one of our most versatile players, and the fact that he attacks the rim is important for us because we don’t have a lot of guys that get in the paint that well,” said big man Brendan Haywood, who played at North Carolina with Carter way back when. “The timing is great. This is the time of the year that you want guys to be peaking, and it seems like that’s what he’s doing right now.”
Consider that a side benefit to sending Odom home to Los Angeles.
Jason Kidd – The 39-year-old point guard, who has had a terrible season physically and statistically, has looked like the Kidd the Mavs need in his two games since he returned from a four-game layoff to rest and rehab a strained right groin that had bothered him all season. He’s quicker and more explosive and is playing more aggressively than he has been all season. He put up a seven-point, seven-assist, six-rebound, two-block, one-steal line in 22 minutes in Tuesday’s win over the Kings. He followed that with a better performance against the Warriors, coming within one rebound of a triple-double while dishing out 12 assists and getting three steals and two blocks in 33 minutes. The question now: Can Kidd keep it up during a stretch of seven games in 10 days that started last night?
Lamar Odom – One more time, for old times’ sake. Maybe the most underachieving season in NBA history came to a premature (yet too late) end after Odom’s halftime confrontation with owner Mark Cuban, who finally got sick of Odom’s chronic unprofessionalism and lack of commitment after watching the forward play four lifeless minutes against Memphis, hours after Odom was late to a team meeting. Odom left Dallas on Tuesday wearing a T-shirt from his clothing line that was purple and featured a gold drawing of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the flight home to L.A. It was classic Khloe’s little Lam Lam: passive-aggressive, self-promoting and Lakers-loving.
DALLAS -- The only explanation Charles Barkley can come up with for Lamar Odom’s disgraceful stint in Dallas is that the 13-year veteran never got over his divorce with the Lakers. But it disgusts Barkley that the Mavericks are on the hook for alimony after annulling their marriage to Odom.
“I always pull for the players, but the fact that they’ve got to pay him I think is a joke,” Barkley said during his Wednesday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Galloway & Co. “I mean, because he didn’t earn his salary. He didn’t earn it at all.
“I like Lamar as a person, but I’m disappointed about everything that happened in Dallas. And it’s a shame that the Mavs got to pay him, to be honest with you, because he doesn’t deserve to get paid for what he put out there this year. He doesn’t deserve it, plain and simple.”
The Mavs finally had enough of Odom’s sulking, sorry effort and habitual tardiness and banished him from the team Sunday, less than 24 hours after a heated halftime confrontation where owner Mark Cuban questioning Odom’s commitment.
Odom presumably will return to Los Angeles to cash Cuban’s checks. Odom, who averaged career lows by far in almost every category and still whined behind the scenes about not getting enough playing time, will make almost $1 million the rest of the season and is due a $2.4 million buyout payment in June.
“To sit at home and make that kind of money really pisses me off, to be honest with you, for the effort that he put out there,” Barkley said. “He’s going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars these next two paychecks. ... That’s not fair to the Mavs. It’s not fair to the game of basketball.
“I’m just disappointed in Lamar.”
DALLAS – At long last, Lamar Odom is gone. Now what do the Dallas Mavericks do when Dirk Nowitzki needs to rest?
Shawn Marion essentially served as the backup power forward during the Mavs’ championship season, and that’s a possibility again, especially if Vince Carter logs significant minutes at small forward. Brian Cardinal’s playing time could increase dramatically, but “The Custodian” has struggled mightily in limited minutes this season. You can count on the Chinese media that has hung around all season to inquire about the potential for Yi Jianlian to crack the rotation.
But the best answer might be Brandan Wright, a former lottery pick whose NBA minimum salary has been a remarkable bargain for the Mavs but has rarely played power forward this season.
Coach Rick Carlisle has been hesitant to play the high-flying, 6-foot-10, 210-pounder at power forward because Wright doesn’t have the shooting range to be a perfect fit at that position in the Mavs’ scheme. But this is far from a perfect situation, and Carlisle said Monday that he plans to use Wright at power forward.
According to 82games.com, only five percent of Wright’s minutes with the Mavs have come at power forward.
“We’ve done it in certain stretches this year,” Carlisle said. “This morning we looked at the film of those stretches. There’s some adjustment, but we’re not going to reinvent our style of play. There’s got to be a few tweaks if he plays that position and we’ll go from there.”
Wright has performed well in his few stints at power forward, his primary position until this season, averaging 24.5 points and 14.0 rebounds per 48 minutes. That’s an extremely small sample size, but those numbers compare favorably to his per-48 production at center (20.5 points, 9.7 rebounds).
Regardless of position, Wright tends to give the Mavs a spark with his athleticism and energy. He has flaws, such as his limited shooting range and lack of strength, but the Mavs never have to wonder whether he’ll play hard.
That alone makes Wright an upgrade over Odom.
Don’t spend a second worrying about whether the Mavs' finally doing the right thing and dumping Lamar Odom will have any impact on the potential of Deron Williams coming to Dallas this summer.
|Senior NBA writer Marc Stein breaks the news that Lamar Odom and the Mavs are parting ways. |
Guess what? If anything, Schwartz owes the Mavs a major favor at this point. He orchestrated the deal that shipped Odom, the reigning sixth man of the year, from L.A. to Dallas after the emotionally soft player got his feelings hurt because the Lakers tried to include him in a blockbuster to get Chris Paul. The Mavs got a player in horrendous shape physically and worse shape mentally.
The Mavs more than held up their end of the bargain. They bent over backward trying to get a man with an $8.9 million salary -- plus a $2.4 million buyout due by June 29 -- to care enough to play hard for the defending NBA champions.
Heck, Mark Cuban spent a couple of days practically giving Khloe’s little Lam-Lam foot massages in the W Hotel while the rest of the Mavs were on the road during the most difficult schedule grind of the season. And Cuban still stuck up for Odom afterward, pumping nothing but sunshine about the NBA’s most underachieving player this season.
“You never see us calling out or talking [negatively] about players,” Cuban said last week, speaking in general terms when asked about the drama that had unfolded in Orlando. “If anything, if I’m doing something relative to a player, I’m taking a bullet for him as opposed to shooting one at them.”
Cuban took a bunch of bullets for Odom. Schwartz surely knows that. The only potential benefit of Odom’s awful four months with the Mavs is that it provided further evidence that the Mavs will do everything in their power to try to help a player be successful.
The Mavs should have dumped Odom weeks ago. There was a strong feeling in the locker room that he never should have been welcomed back after Odom’s bizarre, self-imposed, 10-day midseason sabbatical. This is all on Odom.
If Schwartz isn’t sure about that, he can just ask Jason Kidd, the client who has made the power-broker agent more money than anybody. You can rest assured that Kidd wasn’t thrilled that Odom refused to commit to actually trying to help the Mavs repeat.
Kidd, by the way, has also made it clear he’d be happy to back up his golf buddy Williams in Dallas next season.
As bad as Lamar Odom has been this season, it’s hard to ignore the numbers. The Mavs are 30-17 when Odom plays and 0-7 when he doesn’t.
“I told everybody about how important the presence of Lamar Odom was,” Jason Terry said after Odom missed the Mavs’ 94-75 loss to the Clippers because of a stomach illness. “You guys are looking at the statistics. I’m looking at the player and obviously what that gives us and what that does for our depth. We truly missed it.”
In this case, it clearly didn’t help that the Mavs were also missing Jason Kidd, who will miss at least the rest of the week with a strained right groin. But the Mavs are 7-5 when Kidd doesn’t play this season.
Coach Rick Carlisle has used the Mavs’ winless record without Odom in the past to emphasize the struggling forward’s importance despite his poor statistics. However, Carlisle was in no mood for that after this miserable outing, saying he wasn’t going to make any excuses.
“I just don’t think we were very good tonight,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “That’s the bottom line. I don’t care who was out there.”
A few more notes from one of the Mavs’ ugliest games of the season:
1. West’s woes: Delonte West didn’t exactly follow up his phenomenal fourth quarter against the Magic in impressive fashion. West keyed the Mavs’ comeback Friday night with seven points and two assists in the final frame, running the point for all 12 minutes while Jason Kidd watched from the bench. With Kidd out Monday, West had only six points and four assists in 36 minutes.
2. Wretched rebounding: The Clippers had a 49-38 advantage on the glass, which Nowitzki attributed in large part to the big differences in shooting percentages. “If one team shoots in the thirty percents and the other team shoots near 50, there’s going to be a lot more rebounds to go around on the other end,” said Nowitzki, who had only four rebounds. “I think that’s not rocket science.” But this isn’t a one-game issue. Dallas has been outrebounded by double digits in six of its last seven games.
3. Jet’s solution: The Mavs’ offense was painfully out of sync without Kidd running the show, registering only 14 assists and shooting 39 percent from the floor. How do they solve those issues before Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies?
“I have no idea, but we’re going to have to figure it out,” Terry said. “If I have to take more responsibility and try to shoot more, shoot 30 times, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Lamar Odom –- After Odom crashed to an all-time low, with a one-point, one-rebound, one-assist performance and an 0-2-0 line sandwiching his first career DNP-CD, he’s actually had two consecutive productive games. This represents major progress for the NBA’s most disappointing player this season. You wouldn’t think that the reigning Sixth Man of the Year averaging 10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists over two games would be a huge deal, but that’s how low the standards have fallen for Lam Lam. The Mavs hope his aggressiveness and interest level in the last two games is a sign of things to come, not fool’s gold.
Jason Terry -- Jet just made a fool of himself in Miami. The gold shoes were silly. The pregame talk of signing with the Heat was stupid and selfish. The 1-of-10 shooting performance was sorry. If you’re going to go out of your way to make yourself a story, you better have more points than turnovers.
Miami Heat. However, the fact that Odom has had two consecutive solid performances is a pretty significant developing story for the Mavericks.
Odom has struggled all season and had been especially awful in the last few weeks, leading coach Rick Carlisle to bench him for last week’s loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Odom played 13 scoreless minutes the next night, but he suddenly resembled an offensive threat after slapping on a headband in Tuesday’s rematch against the Houston Rockets.
Odom had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in Tuesday’s win over the Rockets. He followed that up with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting against the Heat.
Odom, who also had four rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, gave the Mavs a fighting chance entering the fourth quarter by scoring Dallas’ final nine points of the third. That’s quite a scoring spree for a dude averaging 6.9 points on 35 percent shooting this season.
"My legs are finally getting underneath me," said Odom, who admittedly reported to training camp in awful shape. "I feel like I can come out of a move and make a shot. It’s a big difference. Sports are about confidence."
A few more notes from the Mavs’ loss to their Finals foe:
1. Welcome back, West: Guard Delonte West returned after missing 21 games due to a gruesomely fractured right ring finger. The left-handed West scored seven points on 3-of-3 shooting in eight minutes against the Heat, but there was evidence of rust. West, who will deal with significant pain in his surgically repaired finger the rest of the season, was stripped twice. Ballhandling could be an issue for West, who is playing with his middle finger and ring finger taped together.
"Everything considered, Delonte West played great," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I have never seen a guy come back from being out five and a half weeks and hit his first three shots. It was phenomenal."
|Colin Cowherd shares his thoughts on Mavericks-Heat, Thunder-Lakers and more. |
3. Dirk’s disappearing act: The Finals MVP was dominant in the first half, but Dirk Nowitzki didn’t exactly finish strong. Nowitzki finished with 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but he missed his final eight shots from the floor.
|Lamar Odom pulls back the curtain to reveal what may be the root of his on-court struggles with the Mavs. |
“When he comes in, does the lead go up or down?” owner Mark Cuban said Saturday night. “That’s all I care about.”
That makes the Mavs’ commitment to keeping Odom in the rotation even more confusing.
Opponents have outscored the Mavs by 51 points with Odom on the floor.
It’s been especially awful over his last 10 games. Odom’s plus-minus during that span: minus-67, by far the worst on the roster.
A friendly reminder: It's time to move on, Mavs.
Odom will play against the Rockets. His role isn't clear, but his job requirements are as simple as could be.
"He’s just got to play hard," said owner Mark Cuban, who huddled with Odom in the corner of the visitors' locker room at the Toyota Center for several minutes Saturday evening. "If he plays hard, good things will happen."
Good things haven't happened very often this season for Odom, who is averaging career lows almost across the board. How often has he actually played hard?
"More often than you think," Cuban said. "He’s a flow player. He tries to get in the flow of the game. I think he’s just got to impact the flow of the game instead of become part of the flow. I think he’s a feel player, and that’s tough sometimes."
Coach Rick Carlisle stressed that Odom is "an important part of our team even though he’s not having a good year statistically." Cuban said the Mavs aren't concerned about Odom's statistics.
"When he comes in, does the lead go up or down?" Cuban said. "That’s all I care about. I think one of Lamar’s challenges is he tries too hard to make the right basketball play. That helps us sometimes and sometimes we just need him to, because he’s the better player, just do what he’s got to do."
The lead has usually gone in the wrong direction for Dallas with Odom on the court. The Mavs continue to hold out hope that can change.
|ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Tim MacMahon joins GAC to discuss what went wrong for the Mavs in their loss to the Lakers and if booing Lamar Odom was the right thing for Mavs' fans to do. |
Curious about the rarity of a 1-1-1 or worse line, I plugged those numbers into basketball-reference.com’s Play Index with a minimum of 24 minutes played. There are 95 such outings in the site’s database, which dates to the 1985-86 season.
Odom, a key role player on two title teams and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, isn’t even close to the most accomplished player to have such a stinker. He’d have to get in line behind legends like Joe Dumars, Reggie Miller and Gary Payton as well as stars like Glen Rice (three times), Michael Finley and Chuck Person.
This kind of performance could be called pulling a Bowen in dishonor of the dirty-work dude on a few Spurs title teams. Bruce Bowen had six 1-1-1 or worse lines in his career -- actually they were all worse, and he went scoreless in five.
That didn’t stop the Spurs from retiring Bowen’s number last night.
All Odom has to do to remind himself that his misery against the Lakers puts him in pretty good company is look up at the AT&T Center rafters when the Mavs visit San Antonio on Friday.
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