Saturday, March 3, 2012
Mavericks recall Lamar Odom
By Marc Stein and Jeff Caplan
Forward Lamar Odom will skip what was Saturday's scheduled return to the court in the D-League, and instead report directly to the Dallas Mavericks as they seek to snap a four-game skid.
The Mavericks, who recalled Odom from the D-League's Texas Legends earlier in the day, have lost five of six and face the Utah Jazz on Saturday night in Dallas.
Odom, his agent, Jeff Schwartz, and Mavs owner Mark Cuban had met earlier this week in Dallas and worked out a plan to ease Odom back onto the team after his personal absence unexpectedly extended more than a week.
He was just hours away from reporting to the Legends in nearby Frisco for the morning shootaround and was to play in their game Saturday night to build up stamina before returning to the Mavs for their road game Monday at Oklahoma City. Odom has not played in a game since Feb. 20.
But after Dallas lost Friday to the New Orleans Hornets 97-92, plans changed because the Mavs need him now.
While the Mavs will have Odom on Saturday night, the Legends were stuck dealing with fans who purchased tickets for Odom's D-League debut.
Legends president Bill Boyce and Donnie Nelson, the Legends owner and Mavs president of basketball operations, said fans who might be disgruntled can call the Legends' main number, followed by the proper extension and Boyce will handle on a case-by-case basis.
"Obviously, this is unprecedented for us," Boyce said. "We take customer satisfaction very seriously."
Odom's return also raises questions in Dallas, where on Friday, coach Rick Carlisle for the first time made strong comments regarding Odom's situation and what will be expected from him upon his return.
Carlisle said that patience -- from Cuban to Nelson, to himself and the players in the locker room -- is running thin.
"Mark asks a fundamental question of anybody in our franchise: Are they in or are they not in?" Carlisle said Friday during his weekly radio show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Galloway & Co." "Our fans want to know that Lamar's in. Our players want to know that Lamar's in. It's not about how many points he's scoring or rebounds; those things are a factor. Our fans, our players want to see the guy playing like his pants are on fire and we haven't seen that so far and that's got to change."
Point guard Jason Kidd acknowledged that Odom's inconsistent effort and extended absence were issues worthy of concern, although Kidd remained supportive of his teammate.
"Trust factor is always big," Kidd told ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon after Friday morning's shootaround. "For that, he's going to have to earn it with a lot of the guys. But we all give second chances, third chances. For that, we just want him to be him and be comfortable and play."
Added forward Dirk Nowitzki, who has to play heavier minutes with Odom away from the team: "If he can play hard every night and be there for us, it'll be OK. It'll work out. I said two months ago that he can be a big part of what we can do in the playoffs, because his versatility on both ends of the floor is something not a lot of teams have. We'd love to give it a shot and go from there."
Carlisle acknowledged Friday that Odom is dealing with a personal issue, but he said he does not know specific details.
Even so, Carlisle said that Odom's underwhelming season -- the worst in his 13-year career, combined with the off-court drama -- is wearing thin on a veteran core of players attempting to defend its championship.
"There is a personal issue here and we do not know the extent of it or the details of it," Carlisle said. "There is a fine line between compassion, which our owner is showing, and gross insensitivity."
"I'm disappointed," Carlisle continued, "with the way the whole thing's gone. We've worked hard with this kid. I'm a patient guy, Mark is a patient guy, Donnie is a patient guy, our team is a patient team, but patience has worn thin here."
Jeff Caplan covers the Dallas Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.