Whatever personal issues Lamar Odom is going through, it has spiraled to the point where the Dallas Mavericks assigned the 6-10 forward to the Texas Legends of the NBA’s Developmental League.
Odom will play his first game for the Legends at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Austin Toros at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco.
Odom had missed the past four games while in Los Angeles with his ill father. But when it became clear that Odom’s father wasn’t as ill as was first thought, obviously something was amiss with Odom.
After this morning’s shoot around at the New Orleans Arena, forward Dirk Nowitzki put Odom’s tremendous fall from grace from the NBA to the D-League in perspective when he said:
“Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming. But at this point whatever he needs to do to get himself ready, I guess, it’s fine with me. I think we as players have to focus on who’s here.’’
The stunning news came as the Mavs were preparing for tonight’s 7 o’clock game against the New Orleans Hornets. To say they were shocked would be one of the understatements of the year.
“If you’re not walking in the man’s shoes, then you cannot ever know what the situation is,’’ guard Jason Terry said. “So I don’t care to speculate.
“I’ll just say as a teammate and as a brother I support him for whatever he’s going through right now, and my sympathy is with him and his family.’’
Odom is averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds and is shooting 35.7 percent from the field as he has struggled to fit in wit the Mavs since arriving here in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 10. But the drop from the NBA to the D-League for the player who became the first Laker to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award trophy last season means there’s something far more troubling than anyone could imagine.
“He’s a good guy to me,’’ Nowitzki said. “He’s always fun to be around in the locker room and always got jokes.
“He’s rapping constantly, free-styling. I guess he’s just working through some personal stuff.’’
Odom contemplated sitting out this season after the death of his cousin last summer, and after the SUV he was a passenger in collided with a motorcycle, and the motorcycle skidded and killed a teenager. Odom’s wife, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian, talked him into playing this season.
Now, the Mavs have to be worried about Odom’s mental state of mind going forward.
“I guess he told you guys he was actually thinking about taking the whole year off,’’ Nowitzki said. “So obviously it was a lot deeper than people, I guess, expected, so it is what it is.’’
Coach Rick Carlisle said he wouldn’t have any comments about Odom until before tonight’s game.
“I’m not going to address any Lamar stuff this morning,’’ Carlisle said. “I’m not going to talk about it right now.’’
Nowitzki acknowledged that the Mavs will stand by Odom through this difficult period, and that they still believe he will be a valuable piece as the Mavs try to repeat as NBA champions.
“We got to find ways to get better and we’d love to have him,’’ Nowitzki said. “I still think when he’s playing at a high level our team can take it to a whole another level. We’re going to be patient with him and then see what he can give us.
“Like I said, if he can play every night and be there for us, then it’ll be OK and it’ll work out. I said two months ago I think he can be a big part of us doing something in the playoffs. I think his versatility on both ends of the floor is something not a lot of teams have, so we’d love to give it a shot and go from there.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760