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NBA@2: Trading Lamar Odom Back To Los Angeles?
Posted By Bill Ingram On March 5, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
When the Dallas Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for a trade exception it looked like a master stroke by Dallas. After all, what better way to defend a championship than by adding a player who has been a part of multiple championships in LA? Odom was expected to be an impact player on both ends of the court, as well as in the locker room, and he was welcomed with open arms by a Mavericks fan base that has so often delighted in rooting against him.
Unfortunately, Mavs fans are starting to feel like rooting against him again.
The Lamar Odom who arrived in Dallas to such fanfare has fallen well short of expectations, and on many nights he looks like a strong candidate for the Southwest Airlines “Wanna Get Away?” commercial series. Odom asked the Lakers for a trade, and Dallas was one of his desired destinations, but now that he’s here he looks like he has completely lost any desire to actually play the game.
When Odom isn’t physically absent, he appears to be mentally absent, averaging just 7.7 points and shooting 36% from the field. He’s mired in what is, by far, the worst season of his career, and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is running out of patience.
“Mark (Cuban) asks a fundamental question of anybody in our franchise: Are they in or are they not in?” Carlisle said recently. “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. … I’m disappointed 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, (GM) Donnie (Nelson) is a patient guy, our team is a patient team, but patience has worn thin here.”
Now ESPN’s Ric Bucher reports that Odom is “desperate” to go back to Los Angeles, but the Lakers aren’t interested in bringing him back, even if the NBA allowed him to be traded there before July 1. Still, Odom asked for the trade, and his play since then has not inspired anyone in LA to want him back . . .at least not on the Lakers’ side of Staples Center. The Clippers, on the other hand, are said to have a great deal of interest, but they lack the expiring contracts required to bargain with Dallas. The Mavericks are squarely focused on making a run at Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams this summer, so taking back long-term contracts is a deal-breaker for Dallas.
The Clippers would have to send too many pieces back to Dallas to make a deal around ending contracts work.
Mark Cuban has been clear in saying he won’t buy out Odom, as has been suggested, but it remains to be seen how much longer he will tolerate what he’s seeing out on the court.
Odom returned to the Mavs on Saturday after a leave of absence, scoring nine points in 18 minutes off the bench. He has apologized to Mark and to his teammates for his behavior since becoming a Maverick. Is this the beginning of a fresh star for Odom, or will the pouting and the apparent disinterest in the NBA game recur? If it does, don’t be surprised if Odom finds himself elsewhere . . .even if it’s in the D-League, playing for the Texas Legends . . .until an deal can be made that sends him back to Los Angeles, the land of reality TV and, apparently, Lamar Odom’s basketball game.
Blowing Up The Blazers?
If everything had gone according to plan, the Portland Trail Blazers would currently be locked in a heated battle with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top spot in the NBA’s Western Conference. Brandon Roy would be neck-and-neck with Kevin Durant in the race for Most Valuable Player, Greg Oden would be coming off of his third or fourth All-Star game in Orlando and the Blazers might even have a title or two to their credit given how LaMarcus Aldridge has stepped up his game. Nicolas Batum would also be a perennial candidate for sixth-man of the year.
But things haven’t gone according to plan in Portland . . .not remotely.
Brandon Roy’s brilliant career was cut short by knee injuries; Greg Oden never really got a chance to show what he could do and seems bound for premature retirement, as well. Batum has shown flashes, but is anything but consistent. He’ll go out and score 29 points in a loss to Minnesota, but that’s after he scored just nine points in a loss to Denver. He scored 29 points against Houston but then went scoreless two games later against Atlanta. Blazers head coach Nate McMillan would rather have 15 points every night than 29 one night and none the next, you can bank on that.
Aldridge has been all that and a bag of chips, but he can’t do it alone. Despite his brilliant play, the Blazers have fallen out of the Western Conference playoff picture and may not get back in. So what’s the next step for Portland?
First and foremost, it’s time for the Blazers to hire a general manager. Second, that GM needs to be given the authority to make roster moves without team owner Paul Allen constantly getting involved. It’s time to hire an experienced GM who knows his stuff and let him do what he does best. There are some very good names out there, from Mark Warkentien and Larry Harris to Sam Hinkie and David Griffin. Hire a qualified GM and get the hell out of his way.
As HOOPSWORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis reported recently, teams who are interested in dealing with Portland are having a hard time figuring out who’s in charge and who is authorized to negotiate trades. Until that situation is resolved, the Blazers are going to continue to struggle.
Jeremy Lin: Target Practice?
There is a bad side to being featured in every major newspaper and on every ESPN highlight reel. Just ask Jeremy Lin, who has gone from media darling and fan favorite to a measuring stick for opposing point guards. Before the All-Star break New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams hung 38 points on Lin, and last night Boston’s Rajon Rondo did the triple-double dance, recording 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds against Lin.
“He’s just unconventional,” said Lin, who posted 14 points, four rebounds, five assists and six turnovers. “But like I said before the game, he’s one of the best in the league, and so you saw a stat line tonight . . . there aren’t many guards — maybe no guards — who can put up something like that. We didn’t do a good job of containing him, and he obviously controlled the tempo of the game.”
Lin can expect more nights like this, at least until the fervor of his instant impact on the Knicks dies down a bit. Just like the Miami HEAT geared their entire defense around stopping Lin, teams are going to look to make a statement against The Next Big Thing.
What’s important for Lin through this process is to stay grounded, keep working on his game, and trust the sage advice of the head coach who gave him this shot.
“The thing about Jeremy is that he’s going to make some mistakes,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni said following the loss to Boston. “He’s got a learning curve. There’s no way you can throw him in here the first time he does it and expect it to be perfect. But he finds a way to be very positive in the end of games.”
For now that’s enough for the New York Knicks, but for them to make any noise in the playoffs Jeremy Lin is going to have to take the next step quickly.
Lawson, Rose Players Of The Week
The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose and the Denver Nuggets’ Ty Lawson today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Feb. 27, through Sunday, March 4.
Rose led Chicago to a 4-0 week with averages of 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 1.75 steals. Rose tallied 30-plus points twice, including a high of 35 to close the week on March 4 during a 96-91 win at Philadelphia. With three of their four wins coming away from the United Center, Rose’s Bulls own the NBA’s best mark on the road at 17-6 (.739).
Lawson led the Nuggets to a 3-0 week with averages of 20.7 points, a Western Conference-best 11.7 assists and 7.0 rebounds. Lawson posted two point-assist double-doubles, including a 22-point, 11-assist, nine-rebound effort on March 4 at San Antonio during a 99-94 Nuggets win. Lawson had just four turnovers on the week.
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