It just never really seemed to be a good fit. Lamar Odom’s brief stint with the Dallas Mavericks came to an abrupt end on Monday, after both parties agreed that he would be placed on the defending NBA champions’ inactive list for the remainder of the season.
After Odom was made expendable by the Los Angeles Lakers –in their hopes of acquiring Chris Paul– in the offseason, the 32-year-old, and 12-year NBA veteran’s representatives pushed for a trade to the Mavs. Dallas was initially seen as an ideal destination for the league’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year to start over, after the jolt of being discarded by the Lakers, but he began the truncated season well short of peak condition. After a tumultuous summer on a personal level and L.O. was never able to recover.
Odom struggled to adjust after the untimely death of his 24-year-old cousin in July. If that wasn’t bad enough, just days after the funeral, he was a passenger in a vehicle that collided with a motorcycle, resulting in the death of a teenage pedestrian. Due to his turbulent summer, Odom wasn’t able to take advantage of the five-month NBA lockout and fully prepare for the oncoming season. So when 6’10 forward reported to the Mavericks in December, he was out of shape and out of sorts.
But despite Odom’s season-long struggles to adapt to his new surroundings –and despite his career-low averages of 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 20.5 minutes– in his underwhelming 50-game stint the Mavs, the team was 0-7 without him in the lineup. Both head coach Rick Carlisle and Mavs president of basketball operations, Donnie Nelson, saw Odom as the key to Dallas’ title defense in the playoffs. But L.O. never seemed content of comfortable in Mavericks system. So on Monday, the marriage came to an end and Odom’s immediate departure could mean trouble for the champs. But that’s not what’s on Lamar’s mind at the moment. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us,” lamented Odom, who is expected to simply take time to heal mentally and physically prepare himself for next season. “But, I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.”
Instead of outright releasing him into free agency, the Mavericks still own Odom’s rights, leaving open the possibility that they could still trade his partially guaranteed contract after the season in conjunction with the draft. Any team that has Odom on its roster by June 29 must buy him out for $2.4 million or else take on the full $8.2 million contract next season. Odom is ineligible to play in the playoffs with another team because he wasn’t waived before the March 23rd deadline.
With his time in Dallas officially over and several teams in need of a veteran forward, who can guard all five positions, what should Odom’s next step be– once he gets his mind right? It’s evident that L.O. misses the purple and gold, but the chances of him returning to the Lakers are slim, as his trust in the organization was clearly wiped out once he was made expandable in December.
The New York Knicks are the most intriguing destination for Odom. The Queens, NY native would relish the opportunity to play at home and join a potential title contender. With interim head coach Mike Woodson posting a stunning 11-3 record, since taking over for Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks’ plus minus heavily favors their upside. If New York retains the rights to Jeremy Lin and J.R. Smith, and return a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire for next season, adding Lamar would make the Knicks the favorites to win the East. With Melo, Stat, Chandler and Odom, the Knicks would have the best frontcourt in the league.
We already know that Miami is stacked with the Big Three, but by bringing Odom back to South Beach, could prove to be the smartest move Pat Riley has made yet. In a stretch four, L.O. would spread the court for LeBron James and open up lanes for Dwyane Wade to attack. His ball-handling skills alone could be beneficial to the Heat’s offensive sets, as they could play a taller lineup, with Odom at the point, to compete with the taller teams like the Lakers and OKC. If you think the Heat are dangerous now, how hazardous would Miami be if they acquired Odom in the offseason? That thought is beyond scary.
Which team do you think Odom should go to next season?