Less than one year after being named the NBA Sixth Man Of The Year, veteran forward Lamar Odom’s basketball career is in limbo as “ESPN.com” reported on Monday that the Dallas Mavericks have deactivated the player for the rest of the season. Odom will ride the rest of the campaign at home while the club will still have him under contract; thus ending a season that was a nightmare for the former Los Angeles Lakers star. The forward released a statement to the website which stated “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.”
Dallas acquired the big man from Los Angeles in exchange for a second round draft pick just before the season began after Odom demanded to be traded from his former club after a deal that would have sent him to the Houston Rockets and would have put Chris Paul in a Lakers uniform fell apart. The veteran who was a key member of the Lakers squad that won back to back NBA Titles in 2009 and 2010, felt betrayed by the team and rather than risk him becoming a divisive force in the locker room, sent him to the reigning NBA Champions.
Things never quite clicked for the veteran in Dallas, as Odom had problems grasping Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s offense and Carlisle had problems utilizing the big man to the team’s advantage. The former Lakers star was the proverbial square peg in a round hole; leading to the worst season of his career in the NBA as he averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, as well as frustration for Carlisle and the rest of the Mavericks players.
The big man will no longer attend practices or games for the rest of this season, while his fate for next season is yet to be determined. Odom’s contract calls for him to earn $8.2 million for next season, although the Mavericks or any team holding his rights can buy-out the veteran for $2.9 million. The Mavericks could exercise the buy-out this summer or trade the big man to another club.
The key question remaining is if this season was just a result of a set of bad circumstances; or if this is the beginning of the end for the big man. Although it is certainly possible, it is difficult to believe that Odom at 32-years-old suddenly lost his game overnight. It is far more likely that this season was a result of some traumatic personal experiences the veteran went through last summer; his pride being hurt by the Lakers trying to trade him as well as a bad fit with the Mavericks that have led to the player and the franchise essentially parting ways.
The veteran told reporters earlier this season that he almost retired from the Association last summer after his young cousin was murdered and then just a short time later being a passenger in a vehicle involved in a motorcycle accident which resulted in the death of a teenage pedestrian. Although he could walk away from the game after this miserable season; it is more likely that he will use this season to motivate himself and show the world he is still a formidable player in the Association.