Well, that depends on who you believe.
It’s no secret Odom is unhappy in Dallas. The reigning Sixth Man Award winner is having by far the worst season of his career, unable to adapt his all-around game – that normally would fit almost anywhere – with the defending champions.
Right now, Odom is not even with the Mavericks. He left the team midway through last week to be with his sick father in Los Angeles, which he considers home, having spent 11 of his 12 NBA seasons with the Clippers or Lakers and having met his wife there.
He was not back with the Mavs when they resumed practice Monday, and coach Rick Carlisle said he will miss at least more two games.
And one report said he may not be back at all.
From Peter Vecsey of the New York Post: “This just in from a Texas source, who’s hearing Odom is trying to get a buyout. “Don’t be surprised if the Mavs oblige. He’s just not happy in Dallas. Maybe his wife is making him.”
Don’t get too enthralled with that notion from the last paragraph of the piece. There are not one, but two, dissenting reports. Sam Amick of SI.com tweeted, “He’s owed $8.9 million this year (pro-rated, 66 games), $2 million buyout for next season. But source tells me buyout isn’t going to happen.”
And then there’s this, from the guy who would be doing the buying out.
From Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com: “Amid rumors that Odom might not return to the Mavericks and a midseason buyout could be a possibility, owner Mark Cuban told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon via email Monday night: “We haven’t discussed a buyout and we wouldn’t do a buyout. No chance that happens at all. We want to help Lamar work through any personal issues and expect him to be a valuable contributor to the Mavs this season. Players go through challenges from time to time and we try to be (an) organization that fully supports our players when things are challenging for them. We will do the same for Lamar.”
The Mavs may be bending over backward to appease Odom because he is a part of their master plan. Should he finish the season with Dallas, Odom almost certainly would be bought out as part of a massive cap-clearing plan to surround cornerstone Dirk Nowitzki with both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.
And what a ko-inky-dink!!!
Williams, a Dallas native, is in Big D tonight as the Nets visit the Mavs. He is happy to be home – or away from home, if you will.
From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: “A day ahead of his homecoming game against the Mavericks, Williams gave indications he’s amenable – perhaps preferential – to signing with the Mavs when he becomes a free agent. The Dallas native called American Airlines Center “my favorite arena” while taking another shot at the Nets stopgap home in Newark. “Fans are great (in Dallas). It’s always good when arenas have a lot of energy,” Williams said. “Ours doesn’t have too much energy.” Williams also mentioned the “good shooting background” in Dallas, about a month after he criticized the sightlines in the Prudential Center. “I don’t like this arena one bit,” Williams said after a loss to the Thunder.”
The Nets have their own plan for a Howard-Williams exacta and have the upper hand on the Mavs (and perhaps others) because (a) Howard wants to play with Williams and fellow Nets guard Anthony Morrow; (b) they have the ability to trade for Howard now instead of waiting for free agency this summer; and (c) they can offer Howard iconic status in Brooklyn, which he would not have in Dallas, Los Angeles or Chicago.
When Howard played at New Jersey last week, he received a heavy recruiting pitch from Nets fans, who chanted his name throughout the game, and team officials, who strategically placed photos of the Brooklyn arena on the wall leading to the locker room.
Expect Mavs fans at the sold-out AAC to make a similar pitch tonight to Williams that Avery Johnson – who once coached Dallas and now coaches New Jersey – said should not be dismissed.
From Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com: “Johnson has a lot of respect for his former boss, Mavs owner Mark Cuban.
The billionaire has teamed with Dallas president basketball of operations Donnie Nelson to give the Mavs the financial flexibility this summer to attempt to sign Williams and/or Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. “He’s a threat, OK?” Johnson said of Cuban after the Nets’ practice Monday night at SMU. “I know the guy. I think because of the success he’s had — and I know he got criticized a lot for quote-unquote having all those years where he didn’t win a championship — but he’s had some great success here that rivals any situation. So that’s a threat.”
That leaves Howard, whose list of preferred destinations given to GM Otis Smith probably ranks in this order right now: 1. New Jersey/Brooklyn. 2. Dallas. 3. Orlando. 4. LA Lakers.
The groundswell behind Howard playing out the season with the Magic seems to have gotten stronger because (a) Orlando is third – but a clear third, behind Miami and Chicago – in the Eastern Conference, and there are two-plus weeks between now and the March 15 trading deadline for that momentum to build, and (b) if the Magic sense Howard is leaving via free agency this summer, they can work a sign-and-trade with his new team for some of the names being bandied about now – and still get Howard to one of his preferred destination cities.
For example, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel tweeted this afternoon, “Magic don’t really want Brook Lopez in Dwight deal, but even decent big men are tough to find.” Orlando could seek a better deal between now and March 15, then settle for Lopez this summer.
And why are the Lakers so far down the list?
From Sam Amick of SI.com: “Sources with knowledge of Howard’s thinking say nothing has changed about his outlook. And while his wish-list of teams still includes the Nets, Lakers and Mavs, New Jersey is far and away the leader. Though it may pain the purists, it’s not just about basketball for Howard. He wants to take his brand global, to leverage the international influence of Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov while building his brand as Brooklyn’s first star. His wandering eye is enticed not only by the Barclays Center that is set to open next season, but the businesses in the booming area around it that could afford many off-court opportunities. He wants, as one source said, to “be Kobe Bryant, not be with Kobe Bryant.” Of course, it’s hardly that simple. For starters, the Magic appear undecided on which direction they’ll go. Now that the All-Star festivities are behind them, it appears they still might hold on to him until the end with hopes for a change of heart. Among the many complications here is that any and all hopes of landing Lakers center Andrew Bynum — the best big man in the league to fill the Howard void — appear to be dashed because of Howard’s view of the Lakers. Close friends of Howard say he was, in fact, informed that Bryant sees him as a second or third option on a championship-caliber team if he came to Los Angeles.”
Howard and Williams landing in Dallas remains a long shot because there are more moving parts than an 11-man fast-break drill.
Before the Mavs even entertain buying out Odom (and Vince Carter) after the season, they have to find a taker for Shawn Marion, (2 years, $17 million remaining after this season). Jason Kidd ($8.5 million), may retire, but the Mavs also may have to renounce their Bird rights on a combination of impending free agents Jason Terry ($11.4 million), Brian Cardinal ($1.3 million), Delonte West ($1.1 million) and Ian Mahinmi ($884,000).
One factor that will have an impact on the overall trade market leading up to the March 15 deadline are teams with sizable trade exceptions, which include Denver ($7 million for Ray Felton), LA Lakers ($8.9 million for Odom), Orlando ($4.2 million for Brandon Bass) and Utah ($10.9 million for Mehmet Okur).
Teams with substantial cap room that can facilitate three-team deals include Sacramento, Cleveland and Indiana, although many expect the to hold onto their room and make a run at a free agent (Eric Gordon?) this summer.