Lakers hope to catch the Mavs…by sending them their best player off the bench for nothing
In the aftermath of the vetoed trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, former 6th man of the year Lamar Odom, who would have ended up in New Orleans, demanded a trade. Odom saw that the team was willing to package him in a deal without telling him about it, and decided that his time in Los Angeles was at an end. The Lakers obliged by puzzlingly sending him to the team that swept the Lakers in last year’s postseason on their way to an NBA Championship, the Dallas Mavericks. Even more puzzlingly, they did it for nothing more than a roster exemption. So basically, the best player off the Lakers bench, who helped the team win two titles, was dumped to the biggest hurdle in L.A.’s quest to get back to the Finals for…nothing but cap space. Lakers players came in to training camp the next day and expressed universal displeasure over the move. Kobe Bryant told reporters that now he was “pissed off,” and didn’t understand why the team would help its biggest rival in the West. Derek Fisher said he wouldn’t be happy trading Odom for anyone, let alone for no one. Odom today spoke to the media with his new team, and it turns out he wasn’t so enthused about this whole thing, either.
“It’s surreal, it’s definitely surreal,” Odom said. “It happened, you know, like that.”
“Yeah, um, I can’t cuss. That’s not where I wanted to be,” Odom said of New Orleans. “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.”
“It wasn’t about going to New Orleans. It was just about how they did it,” Odom said. “I felt a little disrespected. After being here for so long and going through so many things, I felt like they could have just told me and I probably would have accepted it. If someone is telling you that you can’t be here or there’s no more room for you, you got to understand that. I think because it’s just how they did it is the reason why I took it so personal.”
“Usually, I would hear something from Jeff early on, but it was just like overnight he told me they wanted to move me to New Orleans and we didn’t feel like that was in our best interest,” Odom said. “I told (Kupchak) that what he should do for me, I’d be thankful if he could work with my agent, my representation so I could play for a team like the Mavs.”
“I think when you think about it, that kind of says it all,” Odom said. “I guess it was just time from their standpoint, I guess they just felt like to hell with it.”
To say the parting of ways was less than amicable would be the understatement of understatements. Odom is known as a sensitive player, and the Lakers have been known to be less than friendly when making decisions on their players, so this messy split seemed bound to happen. Odom came under criticism last season by management and fans for being “distracted” during the season by his rising reality show fame after his marriage to Khloe Kardashian. Odom bristles at the suggestion he was distracted, saying he doubled his focus on the court, turning in one of his best seasons statistically of his career.
In the end, the move is best for most every party involved. Odom would not have been able come back to the Lakers after feeling disrespected and the Lakers are not a team that’s going to go out of its way to mend fences with a disgruntled player. Odom gets to play for a Championship caliber team in Dallas for one of the most player-friendly owners he could find in Mark Cuban. The Mavericks add another front-line player to replace (and possibly upgrade) the departed Tyson Chandler and strengthen their chances at defending their World Title. The Lakers unload a great deal of salary to make a big move before the season starts (which the team keeps telling us is imminent) and have one fewer Kardashian sister hanging around. Wins all around.