Coach believes Lamar Odom on board
On Monday, two nights after Odom turned in a promising performance following an extended personal leave, Carlisle said he believes that Odom understands what is expected of him after that meeting.
"I do, I really do. We had a meeting with him the Tuesday before the Laker game," said Carlisle, who along with Odom did not divulge the other participants in the meeting. "A great meeting with him to make sure that he understood that our expectation is not that he be concerned about his stats, it's that he, any time he steps onto the floor he's completely into the game, playing full-out with as much intensity and presence and energy as he can, and the other stuff will take care of itself.
"We had a very positive meeting that day and then the next morning he got a phone call that there was a serious thing going on. Then he had to leave us for a while. He understands and it's evident he understands based on what he did against Utah."
For his part, Odom said Monday that he actually knew at the time of the meeting that a personal issue was tugging at him and it could force him away from the team. However, he acknowledged he did not share that information with Carlisle during the meeting.
"I knew I had a decision to make, to do what was best for me and my family," Odom said prior to Monday's game against Oklahoma City. "I had to make a decision."
Odom said he came away from the meeting with a greater sense of what the team needed from him on a nightly basis and how he might focus his mind on doing it. He said he walked away glad that the meeting occurred.
"Yeah, I had to make myself think it was a positive," Odom said. "I mean, if he's coming to talk to me it's always a positive. When you're in this business it's when they don't talk to you that you have a problem. At the time I felt a little, I don't know the right word to describe it, but I don't ever want anybody to think I'm not giving that (full effort), so therefore I had to switch my mindset and just trying to find out how to give that every night, if that makes sense.
"When I say try to figure out, I guess put that first more than scoring or more than rebounding, or more than anything it's just displaying that. But you display it by going out and performing and sometimes those things kind of fall into place when you display that."
The Mavs, though, thought Odom would return Monday after the All-Star break. He didn't arrive back in Dallas until Wednesday when the Mavs were playing at Memphis. Odom, his agent Jeff Schwartz and Dallas owner Mark Cuban met in Dallas on Wednesday to work out a plan to bring Odom back into the fold.
Odom, averaging 7.7 and 4.5 rebounds in his disappointing and often personally bizarre 2011-12 season, missed four games while away from the team. The Mavs are 0-5 this season when Odom doesn't play.
"If he plays like that (Saturday against Utah), he's going to miss some shots -- we don't really care about that -- but he was into it, he was rebounding, he was blocking shots, he was focused," Dirk Nowitzki said. "If he plays like that, I think we're a different team."
Odom has grappled with his role change in Dallas on several fronts, from playing more small forward than power forward to playing minutes well below his career average and not being part of the Mavs' unit that finishes games.
He said he believes that he might have put undue pressure on himself to produce at the level he was accustomed to during seven seasons with the Lakers, including last season as the league's Sixth Man of the Year.
"I never tried to make it anything else or get out of my comfort zone by thinking about it," Odom said about his role. "We all put pressure on ourselves to perform and I was guilty of maybe doing that to a fault. Other than that we all want the same things, I know I do -- that's to win as many ballgames as possible and try to win another championship."
Odom reiterated that he did not ask for or want a buyout. When asked whether he desired to get back to Los Angeles and play for the Clippers, Odom quickly looked up as if surprised and said, "Clippers?"
"I'm willing to gut things out," Odom said. "That's the kind of personality I have, that's how I am, that's the kind of man I am. I'm loyal, trustworthy because I'm what they call stand-up. I just want the small things in life as everybody else. I want to be treated fairly, we all want to be liked. Some of us do care."
Jeff Caplan covers the Dallas Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.