Jazz in on Lamar Odom deal?
The Utah Jazz have emerged as the potential third team in the Los Angeles Clippers' ongoing trade discussions to acquire Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com the Jazz are willing to take on Clippers guard Mo Williams in a three-team trade scenario that would send Odom to the Clippers and enable the Mavericks to shed Odom's salary without taking back any.
A source with knowledge of Williams' thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne on Thursday night that Williams has decided to accept a trade to the Jazz, which keeps the trade on track to be completed, possibly as soon as Friday.
A source close to the process said no decision has been made at this point as all parties involved have been focused on the draft.
The trade cannot be completed unless Williams agrees to invoke his $8.5 million player option for next season by Saturday's deadline, which means the 29-year-old is essentially deciding if he wants to return to the Jazz -- where he began his career in 2003-04 -- or test free agency this summer.
Williams' agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard: "Mo and I are looking at a lot of different things right now. He'll make his decision in the next day or two."
The trade would be a homecoming of sorts for Odom and Williams, who started their careers with the Clippers and Jazz, respectively.
Vinny Del Negro smiled when was asked Thursday about Odom and the trade, but was not able to speak on the record until the deal was completed.
"I can't talk about other team's players," Del Negro said. "But you know what a player of his caliber has done in this league. ...
"We'll figure all that out (Friday)," Del Negro added. "Hopefully, we can finish out the things that we've been working on and move the team in the right direction for what's best for everyone. There's still a lot of work to be done and we'll move forward in that direction. Obviously, tomorrow is a very important day."
All indications are Williams will opt in to the final year of his deal and the trade will go down Friday or Saturday.
"I expect him to opt in and work from there," Del Negro said. "That's the impression I've gotten."
The Jazz can absorb Williams' salary without sending a player to the Mavericks by using a trade exception created by last season's trade of Mehmet Okur to New Jersey.
The deadline for the trade to be completed, though, is realistically Friday, the deadline in Odom's contract by which point Dallas must either pay $2.4 million to buy out Odom's $8.2 million salary for next season or have him on the books for 2012-13.
Earlier this month, Mavericks officials green-lighted Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, to try to find a new home for Odom via trade. The Mavericks and Schwartz also have discussed pushing the deadline into July if an Odom trade can't be struck by Friday.
The Mavericks' interest in an Odom deal is purely to gain financial flexibility, which necessitates a third team to take on Williams. One possibility discussed, sources said, was Dallas taking back former Mavericks point guard Devin Harris to complete a three-team deal with the Clippers and Jazz, but the Mavericks are trying to avoid absorbing any salary in the move.
If no trade can be struck, either this week or before an adjusted deadline, Dallas is expected to eventually buy Odom out and make him a free agent, with big-market teams such as Miami and New York planning to pursue him in that scenario.
Although Williams is a former All-Star coming off a solid season with the Clippers in which he often played out of position at shooting guard, Dallas has little need for him, given its long-planned pursuits of marquee free agents Deron Williams and Steve Nash and its oft-stated desire to bring back championship-winning point guard Jason Kidd when free agency starts at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday.
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The Mavericks are one of two finalists, along with the Brooklyn Nets, for Dallas-area native Deron Williams and long have planned to pursue the re-signing of Nash -- who left Dallas for Phoenix in summer 2004 -- in the event Williams decides to stay with the Nets.
Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that another team to express interest in Mo Williams is the Los Angeles Lakers, who still have a trade exception big enough to absorb Williams' contract that they created when they dealt Odom to Dallas.
Odom, meanwhile, is eager to return to his adopted home of Los Angeles to resume his career after what amounts to a lost season after his trade from the Lakers to the Mavericks in December.
The move to Dallas followed Odom's inclusion in the Lakers' original three-team trade with New Orleans and Houston that would have landed him with the Hornets and placed Chris Paul in the same Lakers backcourt as Kobe Bryant. But that trade was called off by NBA commissioner David Stern, who has insisted he took that step as the Hornets' lead decision-maker at the time because the Hornets were owned by the league. A few days later, Stern signed off on the Hornets' deal to send Paul to the Clippers.
Drafted by the Clippers in 1999 and a winner of two championship rings in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons with the Lakers, Odom never fit with the Mavericks and left the team by mutual consent before the playoffs began after a nightmarish three months.
Odom has been working out on his own and will attempt to earn a spot on the team bound for the London Olympics next month when he reports to Team USA training camp in Las Vegas.
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi was used in this report.
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics