Lamar Odom not back with Mavs

Updated: February 29, 2012, 12:50 PM ET
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Lamar Odom missed Tuesday's home against the New Jersey Nets and will also miss Wednesday's game at the Memphis Grizzlies as he remains away from the team to tend to a family matter, coach Rick Carlisle said Tuesday.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday that he expects Odom to return to the team, but he doesn't know when that will be. Cuban said that Odom is "dealing with issues and like we do with anybody else who's had personal issues, my job is to help him out and not to comment beyond that.

"He has to clear things out and that's what we're trying to help him do."

Cuban reiterated that he will not negotiate a buyout of Odom's contract and that he believes the 6-foot-10 forward will remain with the team for the remainder of the season. However, Cuban could not say with confidence that Odom in a state of mind conducive to be a consistent contributor for the defending champions in the second half of the season.

"Every player goes through ups and downs. But, when an issue happens it happens," Cuban said. "We just won't know until we know and we'll provide him all the support he needs to get where he wants to go."

Two sources with knowledge of Odom's thinking told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Monday night that -- while the 32-year-old admittedly did briefly ponder retirement during the offseason following the death of a younger cousin -- Odom wants to keep playing despite his season-long struggles.

Odom left the team last Wednesday to attend to his ill father in Los Angeles, a source confirmed Monday. But, as his absence closes in on one week, it is unclear if the reason for his extended absence is due to his father's health or other issues.

Asked if Odom is excused from the team indefinitely, Cuban said, "We'll just keep on working with him and when it's resolved it's resolved."

If Odom decides he doesn't want to return, Cuban might have to revisit the buyout option. But, for now Cuban said setting Odom free with a buyout is not the answer. He defended Odom's underwhelming statistics this season -- 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds a game -- and said Monday night that Odom can still be a "huge plus" for the team.

"We're not going to buy out anybody, there's no reason to do it. We're not going to do that," Cuban said. "That's not the way we work. We try to find what the problem is and fix it."

Odom, the Sixth Man of the Year last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, has had a disappointing two months in his first season with the Mavs. He had trouble overcoming the death of his younger cousin last summer and reported to the Mavs admittedly out of shape.

He had three poor games before leaving the team, which followed three hopeful ones that had Carlisle suggesting on his weekly ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM radio show that they were as close as they'd been all season to seeing Odom turn the corner.

"It's going to work itself out one way or another," Mavericks guard Jason Kidd said of the Odom situation. "We just hope it works itself out soon."

After Tuesday morning's shootaround, Carlisle said he would update Odom's situation on Thursday when the team has an off-day in New Orleans.

The Mavs will be without Odom on Tuesday night and reserve point guard Delonte West, who is expected to miss a few more weeks after undergoing surgery on his fractured right ring finger.

Dallas will have backup guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who returned Monday after leaving the team last week following the death of his father.

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. Marc Stein of ESPN.com contributed to this report.

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