After Friday's first practice, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle cautioned that the roster was not set. Later that night in an email to ESPNDallas.com to explain his strategy for setting free Tyson Chandler and other key pieces of the championship run, owner Mark Cuban wrote:
"I believe we are going to be incredibly well positioned to compete this year, to add to our team, to be just as opportunistic as we ever were and to continue to improve."
And on cue, Boom!
On Saturday night, the Mavs swooped in and plucked Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who will slot into the trade exception Dallas shrewdly acquired earlier in the day in the Chandler deal with the New York Knicks. Odom was to be part of the three-way deal that would have landed superstar point guard Chris Paul with the Lakers and Odom with the New Orleans Hornets.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the trade first late Saturday night as the Paul trade scenario collapsed for a second time after the Lakers pulled out, apparently shifting gears to make a big run at Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. The trade exception acquired by the Lakers could help them take back an additional contract the Magic want to dump.
For the Mavs, they acquire last season's Sixth Man of the Year, a versatile 6-foot-10, 230-pounder who can play both forward positions. With his excellent ball handling skills for a big man, Odom can also initiate offense. And the Mavs get him for virtually nothing.
Odom, sometimes criticized for flipping his intensity switch, averaged 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds last season, while playing 32.2 minutes a game. He shot 38.2 percent from 3-point territory. He can tag-team with Shawn Marion at the 3 and back up Dirk Nowitzki at the 4.
Odom was last seen unleashing a forearm into Nowitzki's chest in Game 4 of the Mavs' stunning sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.
Now, the two are teammates.
Odom's contract also meshes perfectly with Cuban's plan to get under the salary cap next summer. Odom is due $8.9 million this season and next season is a team option at $8.2 million, giving the Mavs desired flexibility with the 12-year veteran as either an expiring contract trade chip at the deadline, a sign-and-trade next summer or they can always keep him on board.
In addition to Odom, the Mavs are expected to sign veteran swingman Vince Carter on Sunday.
And in the larger picture, yes, the Mavs might have just paved the way for Howard to end up in Tinseltown, and if he does it means he won't team up with Deron Williams with the New Jersey Nets. That would seemingly increase the likelihood that Williams, a Dallas native coveted by the Mavs and a potential free agent next summer, will be prompted to leave the Nets.
In other roster moves:
* Brian Cardinal announced his expected return to the Mavs via his Twitter soon after the Odom news broke: "Jumping on a plane tomorrow headed for the Big D! Excited to be back with the Mavs!!! Let's get it!!!
*Cardinal's re-signing brings the Mavs' roster to 14, including the expected signing of Carter. Here's a look at the 14:
PG: Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones
SG: Vince Carter, Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry
SF: Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Corey Brewer
PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Brandan Wright, Brian Cardinal
C: Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi