Lamar Odom could be next Mav to rest

Updated: January 27, 2012, 6:26 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Lamar Odom might be the next struggling veteran on the Dallas Mavericks to get a layoff to work on conditioning and his game.

Dirk Nowitzki's personal training camp is expected to end in time for him to play Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs after sitting out four games. Owner Mark Cuban said Friday during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Ben and Skin Show" that there have been preliminary internal discussions about taking a similar approach with Odom.

Odom, the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, has essentially slumped all season after being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers in December. He's averaging 7.7 points on 32.9 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists -- drastic drops from the 14.4 points on 53.0 percent shooting, 8.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists Odom averaged for the Lakers last season, production that reflects the norm over his 12-year career.

Odom, a 6-foot-10, multiskilled forward, reported in poor condition after an emotionally trying offseason that caused him to consider taking a break from basketball. He is dealing with pain and swelling in his ankles and said he's "not myself yet" after a 2-of-14 shooting performance Wednesday night in which he was benched during the third quarter of the loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"Look, I hate the way he's playing," Cuban said. "But then again, I hated the way Dirk was playing before we sat him down. ... But it takes time to adjust. You can't freak out when a guy's not playing as well as you'd like for him to play."

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle devised an "action plan" for Odom early in the season that included extra conditioning work, but it has yet to result in the type of production the team anticipated getting from a player with Odom's track record.

Carlisle acknowledged to ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway & Company on Friday afternoon that the Mavericks have talked internally about sitting Odom, but he didn't plan on doing so immediately.

"At this time we don't feel that's the way to go," Carlisle said. "It's been a rough go. I take responsibility for a large portion of that [Odom's struggles] because I'm the head coach. I feel I could be doing a better job with Lamar.

"One thing is very important right now. We know he's a good player. We believe in him. We're going to stick with him."

Sitting Odom for a stretch of games could allow him to focus solely on doing what is necessary to get his game on track. Cuban pointed out that Odom missed significant time of the Mavs' abbreviated training camp because he didn't arrive in Dallas until Dec. 13, several days after camp started.

"The reality is when you're [32] years old, you don't just step on the court and all of the sudden play the way you played at the end of the previous season," Cuban said. "And you don't just all of the sudden find your shot. When you don't have practice time, you don't just automatically know what your teammates like and where to get them the ball, particularly when you're a good basketball player."

Cuban was adamant that Odom's passion and commitment to the Mavs, which has been questioned by Dallas-Fort Worth media and fans this week, is not an issue. Odom bristled at a question about his body language Wednesday night, saying that he's upset with himself.

"The guy with the least amount of preparation time that we're depending on the most, we're giving the hardest time when he wants it as bad as anybody," Cuban said. "I mean, people haven't gotten to know him yet. He's a great guy. He works hard. I think there's just a lot of pressure on him now and he hasn't played his best, but there's nobody who wants to play well as much as Lamar."

Odom is fully aware of the criticism. As he left the Mavs' practice court Thursday, he passed Carlisle and a horde of reporters.

"Get 'em off me, coach," Odom said in a playful manner.

"Listen, we believe in Lamar," Carlisle said. "This has been a struggle so far, but this guy can play. We're going to keep supporting him and keep believing in him and he's going to get better and better."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.

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