Lamar Odom: There's no hard feelings
The Mavs held their shootaround at the Toyota Sports Center, the Lakers' practice court where Odom reported to work for seven seasons.
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"It's a little weird, but I'm just kind of focused at the task at hand which is to go out and play a game and win," Odom, wearing his blue Dallas practice jersey while looking around at the purple and gold banners that hung from the walls, said before scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds in the Mavs' 73-70 loss.
Odom has struggled to find his rhythm through the Mavericks' first 13 games, averaging just 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 31.2 percent from the field after putting up 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and shooting a career-best 53 percent in his Sixth Man of the Year campaign last season.
He was dealt to Dallas along with a future second-round draft pick in exchange for an $8.9 million trade exception and a future first-round draft pick last month after requesting a trade once the original deal he was part of involving the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornets was vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern.
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"I've had mixed emotions. Up and down," said Odom of his L.A. return. "But, things move on. There's no hard feelings."
He didn't expect any hard feelings from Lakers fans when his name is announced by Lawrence Tanter over the P.A. system either.
"Hopefully it's welcoming," said Odom who added he had a "great time" in L.A. "I don't see why it wouldn't be."
Odom did get a lengthy standing ovation when he entered Monday night's game as a reserve midway through the first quarter. The Lakers honored him during the ensuing timeout with a video tribute and a scoreboard message: "THANKS for the memories LAMAR."
Although Odom appeared touched by the ovations, he didn't show his appreciation to the crowd with any grand gestures. He still produced some of his best minutes in his rough start with Dallas, leading all scorers with seven points in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer moments before the period ended.
Odom and the Mavericks came in a separate entrance to the Lakers' practice facility than Odom did when it was his homecourt, so he did not see any of his former teammates that had just finished their shootaround when the Mavs were beginning theirs.
"Of course I'll say hello to my guys (at the game)," Odom said. "I'll say hi to all my friends. I had some great relationships here throughout the years."
Even though Odom was traded just five weeks ago, he said that the Mavs' busy schedule full of games has made it seem like more time has passed.
"It feels like a minute ago, but you just got to move forward man, move on," Odom said. "It's been a process. Time waits for no man. You put things behind you so you can move on. So you can get better, on and off the court."
Other than the emotional challenge that Odom will face, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said there was something else his backup forward would have to contend with come game time.
"Our first priority is make sure he goes to the right locker room," Carlisle said with a grin.
Carlisle complimented Odom for how he's played in the Mavs' last three games entering Monday -- all Dallas wins -- as Odom had averaged 7.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and shot a combined 8-for-18 from the field (44.4 percent).
"His No. 1 job is to compete his butt off, and we all got his back," Carlisle said. "He's a special guy, we love him and he's got unique skills that very few players in this league have. Right now, the thing we need from him is a high competitive level and to play his game and we're asking that of everybody on our roster."
Said Odom: "My body feels good. I'm just going to play hard and keep playing harder until shots fall and plays are made."
Lakers coach Mike Brown could only wonder what could have been. Brown spoke to Odom on the phone when he first got the job before the lockout began, but never got a chance to rekindle the relationship before the trade occurred.
"He was a part of what I was hoping to do (once I took over the team)," Brown said. "He was definitely going to be a part of what I was hoping to do with this team."
Brown said he had even considered starting the 6-foot-10 Odom at small forward and pairing him with his two 7-footers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to create a sizeable frontline, something that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson was reluctant to try.
"It would have been something I would have probably experimented with a little bit," Brown said. "It would have been fun to take a look at."
Instead, Odom's been Carlisle's player to coach and the Mavs' coach relishes that opportunity.
"He's been a man's man," Carlisle said of Odom. "It was a struggle early, he kept fighting, and now we're in a position where he's competing at a high level and we're going to keep it moving in that direction. He's a really important player on our team."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.