Lamar Odom left heart, head in L.A.

April, 9, 2012
4/09/12
9:38
AM CT
Lamar Odom arrived in Dallas on Dec. 14. His head and heart never left Los Angeles.

"I think when you think about it, that kind of says it all," Odom told reporters on his first day in Dallas referring to how his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, could trade him for virtually nothing to the rival Mavericks. "I guess it was just time from their standpoint. I guess they just felt like, 'To hell with it.'"

That apparently is the conclusion Mavs owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle reached following Saturday's 94-89 loss at Memphis. The Mavs were playing short-handed, yet Odom received just four minutes, all in the first quarter. He played 11 minutes in Friday's home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

And now, the Mavs and Odom are parting ways.

Odom's mind was not on basketball throughout the offseason due to an emotionally difficult summer in his private life. He fell into a deeper mental funk when the Lakers tried to trade him to New Orleans in the proposed blockbuster deal for Chris Paul. Odom admitted he didn't train or work on his game. He contemplated not even playing this season. The Lakers surely knew this about last season's Sixth Man of the Year. Should the Mavs have looked deeper before pulling the trigger?

Maybe. But that's in the past, and now the Mavs (31-26 and seventh in the West) have only nine games in front of them to get their act together, get in the playoffs and do their best to defend their title.

This move won't fix all the Mavs' issues, and they have several. But removing Odom from the locker room should provide at the least a collective exhale and a clearing of the air. There will be no questions about him, no more trying to defend him when his body language on and off the court told the whole story for all to see.

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Dallas certainly tried to make it work. The club continually opted for positive reinforcement, it tried to pump up his career-low statistics and pointed to the team's 0-7 mark without Odom as a reason to keep him on board, if only to provide minute relief for Dirk Nowitzki. But the situation was going the wrong way.

This was a move that had to be made. Fans were fed up, and players and coaches were, too. After Saturday's loss at Memphis, an exasperated Carlisle wouldn't answer a question about Odom, saying, "No Lamar questions tonight." Then Nowitzki, frustrated with his own subpar outing against the Grizzlies, ended an interview when asked about Odom: "I'm done talking about that."

The Mavs badly wanted it to work, and that's why they kept him around. At 6-foot-10 and believed to be as versatile as any forward in the game, the team kept hope that Odom's effort level would spike and he could provide a spark, especially in the postseason.

PODCAST
Senior NBA writer Marc Stein breaks the news that Lamar Odom and the Mavs are parting ways.

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But Odom continually said he wasn't comfortable playing so much small forward, a position he never played with the Lakers in his seven seasons. With Nowitzki, Odom's preferred power forward position was taken.

This season-long drama is finally over. Odom isn't around. Carlisle will have to figure out an Odom-less rotation behind Nowitzki.

Will this provide a pep in the Mavs' step? Maybe. They still have plenty of issues to work out before the playoffs. They still have to make the playoffs.

But this was a move that had to be made. Odom clearly left his head and his heart in L.A.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2