Odom, a University of Rhode Island product and a 12-year veteran who was drafted fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1999, will leave the Mavericks. He was not released, but instead will be listed as inactive.
The move leaves the possibility for Odom to be traded after the season ends. Whichever team has Odom on its roster as of June 29th will either have to buy him out for $2.4 million or owe him the $8.2 million he is slated to earn next season.
This is just the latest in a series of tumultuous events for Odom.
When New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on December 8th — a trade that was eventually vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern — one of the players involved in the trade was Odom, an invaluable sixth man who’d won two rings with the Lakers. When Stern nixed the deal, Odom suddenly felt like an outsider.
Fearing that the mercurial Odom would be too upset to continue his career in L.A., the Lakers traded him to Dallas for a trade exception. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a trade exception occurs when a team trades away a player with a higher salary than the player they acquire in return. Teams with a trade exception have up to one year in which to acquire more salary in trades than they send away, as long as the difference in salaries for subsequent trades is less than or equal to the difference in salary for the first trade. In the Mavericks’ case, their trade exception was created in the sign-and-trade deal that sent center Tyson Chandler to the New York Knicks.
The Lakers’ concerns about Odom were justified. Just five days after the failed trade, and two days after the Mavericks trade went through, Odom was quoted as saying, ”No disrespect to anybody on that team or the city or the ownership. But it’s not a place that I wanted to be after playing for the Lakers, a team that contends for a championship. That’s what you expect to be around. It was hard for me to picture myself there starting over.”
Once the bell rang, Odom — who never averaged less than 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a Laker — came out flat. He averaged only 4.3 points in four December contests as the Mavericks started 0-3. Odom’s slow start was no surprise. Aside from a bruised ego, he’d had a particularly rocky summer. Odom’s 24-year-old cousin was murdered and a few days later, a car in which he was a passenger hit a motorcycle, killing a teenage pedestrian. This was in addition to Odom’s circus of a life as a Kardashian reality show star and his departure from his longtime home in L.A., where he’d spent 11 of his first 12 pro seasons (four with the Clippers and seven with the Lakers, with a one-season stopover in Miami in between).
As Odom continued to flounder in Dallas, he began to test the patience of his head coach, Rick Carlisle. In late February, Odom left the team to attend to his ill father in Los Angeles, and arrived back in Dallas two days later than he’d been expected. He was then supposed to be demoted to the D-League to get back into game shape, but the Mavericks changed course.
Odom’s malaise continued – he averaged just 5.3 points per game in March, cracking double digits only twice – and the Mavericks began to fall down the Western Conference standings. As of this morning, Dallas is just 31-26 and clinging to the seventh seed in the West. Odom’s low point as a Maverick came on Saturday night, when he played just four minutes without scoring, and both Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki refused to discuss his status after the game. The two sides then spent yesterday discussing how to part ways.