Triple Double: Mavericks de-active Lamar Odom for rest of season

Triple+Double

Story by Chris Reinoos

If you picked Lamar Odom’s tenure with the Dallas Mavericks to last longer than his marriage to Khloe Kardashian, you were wrong.

On Monday, the Mavericks agreed to part ways with forward Lamar Odom. The team won’t actually release Odom, but rather they’ll leave him inactive for the rest of the season.

The reasons for not releasing Odom are financial. The Mavericks could attempt to trade Odom before June 29 and save themselves from buying out his contract for $2.4 million. But finding a taker for Odom may be hard when every team around the league knows the Mavericks will take that $2.4 million hit to avoid paying Odom his full $8.2 million salary next season.

So ends a bizarre and confusing stretch of Odom’s career. It all began when the Lakers agreed to trade him to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a package in exchange for point guard Chris Paul. The NBA, which owns the Hornets, nixed the trade, which made for an awkward return to the team for Odom.

Instead of attempting to smooth things over, the Lakers dumped Odom on the Mavericks for just a second-round draft pick. Most analysts hailed the acquisition as a major coup for a Dallas team that was gearing up to defend its championship.

But Odom is a player whose unique skills can be hard to blend with a veteran team where roles are largely defined. With the Lakers, Odom was generally third in the offensive pecking order behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and just ahead of Andrew Bynum. He came off the bench frequently but almost always played during fourth quarters. In other words, Odom knew how the Lakers used him, and his teammates knew the best ways for him to contribute. It was a perfect marriage.

But in Dallas, Odom found himself trying to find his place on a new roster with virtually no practice time due to the compressed schedule this season. Learning how to play with Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter while still looking for his own offense proved too difficult for Odom.

Despite some warning flags, no one could have predicted just how poorly Odom performed as a Maverick. He averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, both career lows by a wide margin. He actually got worse as this season has progressed, with his scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage peaking in December and falling each month since.

Odom’s lack of productivity is a main reason the Mavericks have struggled to the seventh-best record in the Western Conference. If Odom had played as well as he had throughout his decade-plus career, the Mavericks likely would be at least a few games better.

What’s next for Odom? After clearing his head and catching his breath, Odom should have some options if and when the Mavericks waive him. He could be a fit with the San Antonio Spurs, who love veterans and could use a some length and scoring punch off the bench. The Miami Heat seem to have interest in every veteran available. Maybe the Lakers will be interested in a reunion with Odom.

Given his long track record of success and the fact that he should be cheaper because of his awful season, Odom probably won’t struggle to find a job. But I’m sure he’s happy to put this season behind him, and I don’t think the Mavericks mind too much either.

Now if Odom could just divorce Kardashian, he could really move on and start fresh. Seriously, she’s the worst.