Lamar Odom on Lakers exit: 'Surreal'
DALLAS -- Lamar Odom said that the Los Angeles Lakers' decision to package him in a deal to the New Orleans Hornets hurt, but it was not being informed that the trade was in place that ultimately severed the relationship and landed the forward with the Dallas Mavericks.
Odom made his debut of sorts at Tuesday's media day wearing the Mavericks' home white uniform and speaking out for the first time about his separation from the team he had spent the past seven seasons with and won two titles, and joining the enemy that swept the Lakers out of the playoffs.
"It's surreal, it's definitely surreal," Odom said. "It happened, you know, like that."
I think when you think about it, that kind of says it all. I guess it was just time from their standpoint, I guess they just felt like to hell with it.” -- Lamar Odom, on trade from
Lakers to rival Mavericks
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has said the deal that brought Odom to Dallas for a trade exception and second-round draft picks took less than three hours to pull off after the Lakers pulled out of the three-team deal that would have sent Odom to the Hornets and All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Lakers.
Odom said he and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, had no idea that the 6-foot-10 forward was involved in the would-be blockbuster trade package.
When Odom found out, he suggested he was irate.
"Yeah, um, I can't cuss. That's not where I wanted to be," Odom said of New Orleans. "No disrespect to anybody on that team or the city or the ownership. But it's not a place that I wanted to be after playing for the Lakers, a team that contends for a championship. That's what you expect to be around. It was hard for me to picture myself there starting over."
Odom then said the manner in which Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak went about it stung more than the fact he was leaving L.A. or even that the destination was to the troubled Hornets' franchise.
"It wasn't about going to New Orleans. It was just about how they did it," Odom said. "I felt a little disrespected. After being here for so long and going through so many things, I felt like they could have just told me and I probably would have accepted it. If someone is telling you that you can't be here or there's no more room for you, you got to understand that. I think because it's just how they did it is the reason why I took it so personal."
Emotionally stung, Odom said he told his agent and Kupchak to arrange the breakup.
"Usually, I would hear something from Jeff early on, but it was just like overnight he told me they wanted to move me to New Orleans and we didn't feel like that was in our best interest," Odom said. "I told (Kupchak) that what he should do for me, I'd be thankful if he could work with my agent, my representation so I could play for a team like the Mavs.
Cuban, equipped with a sizeable trade exception, swooped in and sealed the deal just before midnight Saturday. When Odom realized he was on his way to the defending champs, he said he wasn't surprised the Lakers sent him to a rival, a move Kobe Bryant quickly spoke out against.
"I think when you think about it, that kind of says it all," Odom said. "I guess it was just time from their standpoint, I guess they just felt like to hell with it."
Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday that he understood why Odom felt disrespected.
"You want to be told things before they obviously come out in public," Bryant said. "Somebody that wins a couple championships with you, you'd think that's what would happen. But it's nothing personal. This is the way they (Lakers) go about doing it.
"Lamar is a sensitive guy, though. Takes a lot of things personally. He won't see it that way."
Lakers center Pau Gasol said he could also see where Odom was coming from.
"I understand (Lamar's) response, and I understand how he felt about it and how you could feel that way. But you have to look at it from a different perspective and not try take it so personal," Gasol told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. "I understand those kinds of things happen. The way the rules are now, it's going to happen more and more. You're going to see more transactions like that. It is what it is. As a player you can only focus on it so much."
Lakers forward Matt Barnes added: "It's a shame that they ask us to play with our hearts, but then when it comes to being traded, cut, or moved, it's a business. So there's always emotional ties when it comes to situations like this, especially when it comes to someone like Lamar that did so much for this team. To kind of be in the dark and then have the trade voided, and then next thing you know you're traded somewhere else. It's a very tough business."
Odom is one of three veterans the defending champions have added to the roster as they re-tool on the fly. Odom, Vince Carter and point guard Delonte West replace outgoing free agents Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea.
Odom, last season's sixth man of the year, could possibly move into a starting role at small forward or back up Shawn Marion and join fellow former sixth man of the year Jason Terry off another deep Dallas bench.
"Just watching him over the years, I was always a big fan of his game because he's a great all-around player," said NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, the longest-tenured Mav entering his 14th season. "He can bring the ball up, he can shoot, he can post. He's a great decision-maker with the ball and one of the best passing big men in the league today. So, we should be able to have fun with each other."
Odom and Carter will finally get in their first full-team workout Wednesday as the regular season comes up quickly, with a Christmas Day showdown against the Miami Heat.
Odom successfully defended one title in Los Angeles and he said he's ready to attempt the same feat with his new club.
"They gave it to us (last season) and hopefully we keep that going," Odom said. "I have a lot of pride being on this team and playing with the defending champions to try and help them defend their title."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Brian Kamenetzky and Arash Markazi was used in this report.