UPDATE: 11:21 A.M. ET
Just hours away from reporting to the Texas Legends for their game against the Austin Toros, ESPN sources claim that Lamar Odom will instead report directly to the Dallas Mavericks to help them battle the Utah Jazz tonight.
As previously reported by Newsone, the Mavericks haven’t been happy with Odom’s sub-par and inconsistent performance since his transfer from the LA. Lakers.
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Coming off of an exhilarating 6th Man of the Year season, NBA champion and former Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom has been with the Dallas Mavericks for less than a year and has already been demoted to the organization’s D-League, reports ESPN.com.
Coach Rick Carlisle, fed up with the 6-10 forward’s consistent game absences — 4 in a row — announced that the “Khloe and Lamar” celebreality star will play for the Texas Legends Saturday night when they suit up against the Austin Toros. Odom is expected to re-join the Mavs on Monday when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.
When he comes back, we’re going to find out very quickly where things are at,” Carlisle said during his weekly appearance Friday on the ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Galloway & Co.” “He’s going to have to show us with his actions and attitude that he’s in.”
Carlisle also made it very clear that the eyes of the Mavs outspoken, no-holds barred owner, Mark Cuban, will be trained on Odom when he returns:
Mark asks a fundamental question of anybody in our franchise: Are they in or are they not in?” Carlisle said. “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.”
Though there’s a lot of grumbling amongst many of Odom’s team-mates, a huge switch for someone who was once considered the “most popular player in our locker room,” according to Lakers’ General Manager, Mitch Kupchak, NBA vet, point guard Jason Kidd remains supportive of Odom:
Trust factor is always big,” Kidd told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon after Friday morning’s shootaround. “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.”
League superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, who, according to ESPN, has had to play extra minutes to replace Odom on the floor, is reserving judgement:
If he can play hard every night and be there for us, it’ll be OK. It’ll work out. I said two months ago that he can be a big part of what we can do in the playoffs, because his versatility on both ends of the floor is something not a lot of teams have. We’d love to give it a shot and go from there.”
According to various reports, Odom has been in Los Angeles attending to his father, Joe Odom, who is reportedly gravely ill.
Fans of “Khloe and Lamar” have been privy to the details of Odom’s tumultuous relationship with his father and the complex emotions he feels for a man whom he says was never there unless he could use him. In one scene from the show, Odom said that the biggest lie his father ever told him was, “I’ll be back.”
Since that time, the two men have tried to mend their relationship; there is little doubt that Odom would be by his father’s side as he battles his illness.
Still, for Carlisle, family illness is just the tip of the iceberg. He claims that his issue is with Odom’s constant lack of regard for the team and that he has to do better upon his return:
It’s got to be few words and strong action and it’s got to go from there, and I’m sure he’ll address the team,” Carlisle said. “But, from this point going forward it’s attitude and action.
We’re going to do everything we can to get the guy ready to play … but he’s well aware now of exactly what’s expected. And it’s not about the stats. It’s about how he approaches it in terms of his actions on the court, his engagement in the game, being into it and intensity, passion, all those kind of things.”
There is a personal issue here and we do not know the extent of it or the details of it,” Carlisle said. “There is a fine line between compassion, which our owner is showing, and gross insensitivity.”
I’m disappointed,” Carlisle continued, “with the way the whole thing’s gone. We’ve worked hard with this kid. 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.
This is serious business. The business of winning NBA basketball games is serious business. This is not easy. It’s not easy to win a game in the NBA. … We need people that are engaged and we need people that are into it.”
Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, clarified Odom’s status with the Mavericks in a statement released Friday:
The whole idea of going to the D-League was Lamar’s,” Schwartz said. “He proposed it to the Mavs; they never asked him. He wanted to get some floor time in actual game conditions before rejoining the team. People need to educate themselves on the rules in place here. NBA veterans don’t get sent to the D-League without their consent.”
Even though Carlisle fully plans to hold Odom accountable for his actions — or lack thereof — thus far, he says there is room for forgiveness:
When Lamar comes back, if he comes on the floor and he competes the way people expect him to compete as a member of a world championship defending team, this problem will go away.”