Lamar Odom & The Dallas Mavericks Part Ways

VIA ESPN

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

Lamar Odom’s brief and bumpy ride with the Dallas Mavericks has come to an abrupt end.

The Mavericks and Odom spent Easter Sunday working out a parting, according to sources close to the situation, that frees the struggling Odom to leave the team immediately without actually being released.

Odom I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.
” — Lamar Odom

“The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it’s in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team,” Odom said in a statement to ESPN.com. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.”

Sources said Monday that Odom’s departure will be immediate and that the Mavericks intend to simply list him as inactive for the rest of the season instead of outright releasing him, leaving open the possibility that they could still trade him after the season in conjunction with the draft. Any team that has Odom on its roster as of June 29 must buy him out by that date for $2.4 million or otherwise accept responsibility for the full $8.2 million that Odom is scheduled to earn in 2012-13.

Even if either side had pushed for a formal release, there is little upside to taking that step now with Odom ineligible to play in the playoffs with another team because he wasn’t waived before the March 23 deadline. One source close to the 32-year-old told ESPN.com that the decision sets Odom up to “clear his head and start getting ready for next season” after his career-low numbers and minutes continued to dip as the season wore on.

Odom will not be at practice Monday, sources said, after he was given just four first-quarter minutes of playing time Saturday night in Memphis, accounting for the low point of a consistently rocky season in Dallas following his trade in December from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Odom’s representatives pushed for the trade to Dallas after it became known that the Lakers had agreed to trade Odom to the league-owned New Orleans Hornets as part of a Chris Paul blockbuster that was ultimately vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern in his role as the Hornets’ lead decision-maker.

Throughout Odom’s season-long struggles to adapt to his new surroundings, Mavs officials and players have repeatedly expressed confidence that the former Laker could still be a playoff X-factor, pointing to the team’s 0-7 record without him as evidence that his presence — if only for the minute relief Odom gives star forward Dirk Nowitzki — has helped the team on some level.

But exasperation with Odom’s languid play reached an apparent breaking point in Memphis. Both coach Rick Carlisle and Nowitzki refused to discuss the Odom situation after Dallas’ 94-89 defeat to the Grizzlies.

“No Lamar questions tonight,” Carlisle told reporters.

Lamar Odom on ESPNDallas.com

The reality show that is Lamar Odom has ended in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Nowitzki, meanwhile, fielded questions for four minutes about his own struggles in the Memphis defeat — including two late turnovers — but ended the interview when asked about Odom.

“I’m done talking about that,” Nowitzki said.

Associates of the veteran forward, meanwhile, have long maintained privately that his lack of a clear-cut role with the Mavericks — where minutes behind Nowitzki are limited — complicated the transition. Lakers star Kobe Bryant said as much after a game in Dallas recently, describing himself as “pleasantly surprised” that the Odom deal wasn’t coming back to haunt his team.

“It’s tough,” Bryant said. “He comes to a team that’s pretty much set, you know what I mean? So it’s hard for him to find his niche. The fans, they don’t really understand what he does or how he can do it, you know what I mean?

“I hope they don’t unlock that mystery. I know. I know how to use him and to use his skill set and this, that and the other. But with this team, the roster that they had being pretty much set, it’s tough for him to be able to find his groove here.”

After declining to offer defensive anchor Tyson Chandler more than a one-year deal in the offseason to preserve future salary-cap flexibility, even after Chandler’s pivotal role in the Mavericks’ championship breakthrough last season, Dallas used the resulting trade exception created by Chandler’s sign-and-trade move to the New York Knicks to bring Odom in with the idea that the parties could help each other greatly on a one-season basis.

Dallas was initially seen as an ideal destination for Odom to start over after the jolt of being discarded by the Lakers, but he began the season well short of peak condition after a tumultuous summer on a personal level and never quite caught up.

Left reeling by the July murder of his 24-year-old cousin and a fatal car accident days later that killed a teen pedestrian after the car he was riding in as a passenger collided with a motorcycle, Odom did almost no basketball training during the five-month lockout. The contrast in preparation to his final season with the Lakers was stark; Odom won NBA Sixth Man Award honors in 2010-11 after spending the bulk of the summer of 2010 with Team USA, often playing as a center for a squad that won the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.

Odom leaves the Mavericks averaging just 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game while shooting 35.2 percent from the field and 25.2 percent on 3-pointers, all career lows by some distance.

Unlike a leave Odom was granted just before the All-Star break, there are no plans to bring him back to the team this time, sources said.

~Signing Off~
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Chris Paul Trade To LA Lakers Stopped By The League

The NBA has stopped the proposed trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers yesterday. Check out the ESPN story!

On the eve of the sport’s formal re-opening for business after a five-month lockout, NBA commissioner David Stern sent shockwaves throughout the league Thursday night by nixing the league-owned New Orleans Hornets’ plans to trade guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Within an hour of the Hornets striking an agreement in principle with the Lakers and Houston Rockets on a three-team trade that would have landed Paul in the same backcourt as Kobe Bryant, Stern informed the Hornets that they couldn’t make the trade, stunning team officials who had been working around-the-clock for days in hopes of bringing an end to the Paul saga before the season officially started.

Amid a stream of reports that angry owners were demanding the trade be vetoed, on the same day those owners had gathered in New York to ratify a new labor pact purportedly designed to foster competitive balance and prevent small-market teams from being raided for their stars, league officials tried to dispute claims of a revolt by insisting that the decision was Stern’s.

“It’s not true that the owners killed the deal,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “The deal was never discussed at the Board of Governors meeting and the league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons.”

Yet in an email to Stern obtained by Yahoo! Sports and The New York Times, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called the proposed deal “a travesty” and urged Stern to put the deal to a vote of “the 29 owners of the Hornets,” referring to the rest of the league’s teams.

The proposed trade would have sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and furnished New Orleans with three top-flight NBA players in Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Lamar Odom as well as playoff-tested guard Goran Dragic and a 2012 first-round pick that Houston had acquired from the Knicks. The general reaction among rival executives was that Hornets general manager Dell Demps did as well as he could under the circumstances after Paul told the Hornets on Monday he would not sign a contract extension this season and instead planned to become a free agent July 1, 2012.

But Stern stepped in to nix the swap and leave all three teams with several shell-shocked players and officials heading into Friday’s scheduled start of training camps, after the commissioner insisted for months that Hornets general manager Dell Demps and the rest of the team’s front office had autonomy over basketball decisions. Sources close to the situation said Demps and teams that have pursued Paul had been assured the Hornets had the clearance to trade Paul as they saw fit.

“WoW,” was Paul’s reaction on Twitter.

Said Odom via his Twitter feed: “When a team trades u and it doesn’t go down? Now what?”

In Paul’s case, sources told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that the angry All-Star will not be reporting to Hornets camp on Friday and will instead explore his legal options with NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, while maintaining the stance the deal is merely “on hold” as opposed to squashed.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, reported that Odom also intends to skip the first day of Lakers camp, while the Rockets were said to be crestfallen after missing out on Gasol, who was targeted to fill the void created by Yao Ming’s retirement.

“Maybe I’ll see you there tomorrow [at practice],” Odom told the Times in a telephone interview. “But I doubt it. You don’t want to go to no place you’re not wanted. I’ll try to give them what they want as much as possible.”

Numerous sources close to the process expressed skepticism that the deal has a chance of being revived, amid a growing sense the league is now determined to keep Paul in New Orleans for an unspecified length of time — perhaps even for the entire season — to support the notion that lockout wasn’t for naught and that the new labor deal has improved small-market teams’ ability to retain star players.

The problem there, of course, is that the Hornets — thinking they had avoided the drama that engulfed the Denver Nuggets for months last season until they finally traded Carmelo Anthony — are left with a disgruntled star who can still opt out of his contract and leave the franchise with nothing as of July 1, 2012. Stern’s decision to block the deal has likewise raised the question of whether New Orleans can trade Paul anywhere until a new buyer for the team is found, since any deal that does go through could create the appearance that Stern hand-picked the destination.

At a news conference, before word of the blocked deal had spread, Stern was asked if the pending Paul deal to the Lakers was a signal that the new labor pact was already failing on the issue of improving competitive balance.

“I’m happy that people are back to talking about basketball,” Stern said. “Superstars, under any collective bargaining agreement, will always have tremendous leverage in this league, because an individual player can be so impactful on a franchise. But we’ll see how it plays out.

“With a new deal that’s six or 10 years (long), I wouldn’t look to a 24- or 48-hour period (as evidence how it will work).”

Said NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver on how involved the league is in Hornets decision-making: “Ultimately the buck stops with the league office. But we’re relying on the management — Jac Sperling, Dell Demps, Hugh Weber — we’re relying on the management of that team to make decisions that are in the best interest of that franchise. But ultimately the decision rests with the league office. The final final say.”

Odom said the league’s action left him disoriented.

“I don’t know what to do for the Lakers,” Odom told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m even weirded out by the league doing what they did. I don’t know what to do.”

A “somber” Odom told the newspaper he thought it was a lie when he was first told about the trade to the Hornets.

“And then it doesn’t go through,” Odom said. “Oh, lord. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll pray about it.”

Odom also said he felt bad for Gasol.

“Imagine how Pau feels,” Odom told the Times. “Pau came to the Lakers and played here for four years, went to the Finals and lost, won two NBA championships and then got swept [by the Mavericks this year]. Wow! Imagine how he must feel.

“Man, I’m just in total disbelief about all of this,” Odom added. “They don’t want my services, for whatever reason. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I was proud to be a Laker, so I’ll try to help them in the process as much as possible.”

Despite the 149-day lockout, uncertainty over Paul’s future and the fact that the league had to step in to buy the team last December from floundering owner George Shinn, fan support has been building in New Orleans, where the team has advertised their season-ticket drive as an effort to lure a permanent local buyer who is committed to keeping the team in Louisiana. The Hornets had increased their season ticket base from just over 6,000 last season to 10,019 as of Thursday afternoon.

Paul was drafted No. 4 overall by the Hornets out of Wake Forest in 2005. He’s been an All-Star in the West for the past four seasons and also was a member of the United States’ Olympic gold medal-winning team in Beijing in 2008.

~Signing Off~
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Chris Paul Traded To LA Lakers In Three-Team Deal

The LA Lakers have landed Chris Paul!!! In a crazy sports day already with Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson signing in the Angels in the MLB, the Lakers made a huge NBA move.

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a trade in which they will obtain New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, sources tell ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

The Houston Rockets are the third team in the trade and will obtain Gasol from the Hornets in return for Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, and a 2012 first-round pick that Houston received from the New York Knicks, sources said.

~Signing Off~
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Lakers Take Game 5 Over Nuggets

nba_a_lamarsc1_576

The Lakers are now only one win away from reaching the NBA Finals again. The first half of the game was just about even, but the Nuggets outplayed the Lakers even though it was tied at half time. The second half was basically all Lakers though. Lamar Odom scored 19 and added 14 rebounds and Kobe Bryant scored 22. Carmelo Anthony scored 31 but it was not enough as the Lakers won 103-94 and take the 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is on Friday.

~Signing Off~
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