Report: Odom to skip D-League, join Mavs
By The Sports Xchange
|Raptors center Andrea Bargnani drives on Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom in Dallas. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)
With his coach and teammates challenging him to step up, Lamar Odom will reportedly skip his refresher in the D-League and join the Dallas Mavericks for their home game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
Odom, who planned to play Saturday for the D-League’s Texas Legends on his way back from a leave of absence, instead will join his team, sources told ESPNDallas.com.
The forward, who has struggled on and off the court this year, has been away from the team since Feb. 22, reportedly to tend to his ill father. He had wanted to ease his way back by playing in the D-League on Saturday, but a source told ESPNDallas.com the team needed him, so the arrangements were altered.
Odom also might have gotten a little push from several comments made Friday by members of the Mavericks, who have lost five of their last six games.
Coach Rick Carlisle all but challenged Odom to step up or step out, as he said “patience has worn thin” and referred to owner Mark Cuban’s philosophy for the team.
“Mark asks a fundamental question of anybody in our franchise: Are they in or are they not in?” Carlisle said during his weekly radio spot on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “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.”
Odom acknowledged earlier this year to ESPN.com that he considered not playing this season after a difficult time off the court in the offseason. His 24-year-old cousin was murdered in July and, days later, a car Odom was riding in struck and killed a teen-aged pedestrian.
He then was traded from his long-time team, the Los Angeles Lakers, to the Mavericks. He’s averaged a little more than half his career totals in points at 7.7 per game, and rebounds, with 4.5.
On Feb. 22, he left the team, with reports indicating his father was ill.
“There is a personal issue here and we do not know the extent of it or the details of it,” Carlisle told ESPN radio. “There is a fine line between compassion, which our owner is showing, and gross insensitivity.”
Carlisle acknowledged several members of the organization, from Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson to players, were running out of patience waiting to see Odom show the effort and form that earned him last year’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
“I’m disappointed with how it’s gone. We’ve worked hard with this kid,” Carlisle told ESPN radio. “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.
“... When he steps back on the floor in a Mavericks uniform, there’s going to be a lot of scrutiny. This is not just the expectation; this has got to be the reality. The guy has got to play his (butt) off.”
Odom’s teammates acknowledged he will have some obstacles to overcome to fit in after an inconsistent season.
“Trust factor is always big,” point guard Jason Kidd told ESPNDallas.com. “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.”