Coach Rick Carlisle is done biting his tongue and coddling Odom, whose equity built up during his previous dozen NBA seasons has been exhausted in Dallas. So has the Mavs’ patience for a talented player who has been perhaps the NBA’s biggest underachiever so far this season.
“When he comes back, we’re going to find out very quickly where things are at,” Carlisle said on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Galloway and Co.” Friday afternoon. “He’s going to have to show us with his actions and attitude that he’s in.
“Mark [Cuban] asks a fundamental question with anybody in our franchise: Are they in or are they not in? Our fans want to know that Lamar’s in, our players want to know that Lamar’s in. It’s not about how many points he’s scoring or rebounds. Those things are a factor. Our fans, our players want to see the guy playing like his pants are on fire, and we haven’t seen that so far. And that’s got to change.”
The Mavs are simply asking -- demanding, actually -- that Odom gives them maximum effort. Of course, that should be a minimum requirement for a man making a high seven-figure salary to play a game.
It’s reached the point where if that doesn’t happen, the Mavs will have to get rid of Odom. The vibe in the locker room right now is similar to what it was right before the Mavs shipped Josh Howard to Washington.
The Mavs want Odom to be a major factor in their quest to defend their championship. They have hope that can happen.
However, they aren’t about to let Odom kill this team’s chemistry -- one of the things that made last season’s team so special -- if he isn’t on board.
“When he steps back on the floor in a Mavericks uniform, there is going to be a lot of scrutiny,” Carlisle said, referring as much to the front office, coaching staff and players on the roster as fans and media. “This is not just the expectation, this is the reality: The guy’s got to play his ass off.”
Carlisle expects Odom to address the team upon re-joining the Mavs on Sunday. However, Carlisle wants “few words and strong action” from Odom.
If that doesn’t happen, the Mavs will be forced to make a difficult decision. Cuban has ruled out giving Odom a buyout, but that doesn’t mean the team wouldn’t tell Odom to stay away from the arena.
So what if his agent represents summer free-agent target Deron Williams? The Mavs have more than done right by Odom.
And guess what? Jason Kidd has been agent Jeff Schwartz's top client for years, and Kidd made it clear after Friday morning’s shootaround that it’s on Odom to gain the Mavs’ trust. If not, the Mavs must move on, although there’d be a hole in the depth chart behind Dirk Nowitzki.
They did that a few years ago with Shawne Williams, when his off-court antics pushed past the Mavs’ patience threshold. Odom is a much bigger name with a bigger paycheck, but the Mavs are in the business of winning.
Odom better start contributing to that business soon.