Lamar Odom averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3 assists in 32.2 minutes per game last season for a playoff-bound Los Angeles Lakers team. These are fantastic numbers for a bench player, and his advanced metrics look even better: a PER of 19.4, a true shooting % of 59, a 118 offensive rating. He won the Sixth Man of the Year award, and deservedly so — at 31, the versatile power forward had a career year.
Fast forward to today, and things look entirely different. Odom’s inaugural campaign with the Dallas Mavericks — where he was traded for next to nothing by the Lakers after the team destroyed their relationship by including Odom in the vetoed CP3 deal — has ended with an anticlimax: Mr. Khloe Kardashian will part ways with the Mavs immediately and spend the rest of the season idle. He’s not being released, and he’s not being traded, since those deadlines are past: he’s just not playing for the Mavericks anymore.
If this seems insane to you, you’re not alone. Odom’s a 32-year-old coming off arguably his best season as a pro. Most teams in the NBA would kill to have him in their lineup. But he never fit with the Mavericks, whose best player, Dirk Nowitzki, plays the same position as Odom and not in an entirely dissimilar way, with a heavy emphasis on stretching the floor inherent to both guys’ games. And the minutes Odom did get this year, he did nothing with — his PER of 9.4 means that he might’ve hurt the team as much as helped.
Odom will now spend the rest of the season searching for his game, and hopefully working out; he entered the lockout-shortened 2012 campaign having done no basketball prep for a full five months, thanks to a combination of personal tragedies and professional uncertainty. As bizarre and counterintuitive as this result seems, these things do happen, particularly in an abridged scenario like the 2012 season, and Odom left L.A. in an acrimonious and unfortunate mess. Kobe’s sneering remarks — “I hope they don’t unlock that mystery. I know. I know how to use him and to use his skill set and this, that and the other. But with this team, the roster that they had being pretty much set, it’s tough for him to be able to find his groove here.” — hints at how locked in Odom was with the Lakers, and how difficult it might be for him to find his way elsewhere without proper time to acclimate. Despite his obvious physical and basketball gifts, there is a reason Odom came off the bench for L.A., and it has something to do with the fact that he doesn’t quite fit any one position.
While the Mavericks’ appear to be surrendering to Odom’s whims, their formal disavowal of the two-time NBA champion means that Dirk and coach Rick Carlisle no longer need to shrug off nagging Odom questions post-game, and they can concentrate on the strong personnel Dallas does have. Meanwhile, Odom has all the time in the world to get his head straight in anticipation for next season, when a number of teams should be clamoring for his services.
Ironically enough, last night’s episode of Khloe & Lamar dealt with the couple finally moving in to Dallas. To send Lamar off, here’s video of the happy couple badly misusing a “sex swing.”