Early this morning, news broke that the Dallas Mavericks and forward Lamar Odom have mutually agreed to part ways for the rest of the season.
Odom won’t be released outright, but rather placed on the team’s inactive list, with the Mavericks possibly hoping they can find a trade partner for his services after the end of the season. Had he been released, he wouldn’t have been eligible for postseason play on his new team anyway, as the deadline for that was back on March 23.
Odom had posted career-lows across the board since being acquired by the Mavericks from the Lakers just prior to the season. For his career, he averages about 14 points and nine rebounds per game. This season, those numbers have dipped to just six points and four boards in about 20 minutes a night.
His body language has been miserable all year long, and he clearly had no desire to compete.
Any team that has Odom on its roster by June 29 must either buy him out for $2.4 million, or be on the hook for his entire $8.2 million salary for the 2012-13 season.
So, assuming the 32-year-old doesn’t retire (as he had reportedly considered prior to this season), where does he go from here?
On the surface, the Los Angeles Clippers would seem to make plenty of sense.
Odom has always been vocal about his affection for Los Angeles, and it was highly evident, based on his horrid play for the Mavs, that his heart remained here even after being traded.
The Clippers drafted Odom No. 4 overall back in 1999, and he played here for four seasons prior to signing with the Miami Heat in 2003.
In terms of on-court production, Odom would seem to be an ideal fit for what the Clippers are looking for. Assuming his head and heart are both in it, he’s one of the most complete two-way players in the league. Just last season, he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award when he averaged over 14 points and eight rebounds per game for the Lakers. Clearly, the ability is still there.
The Clippers have tried patching up their gap at small forward with Caron Butler and Bobby Simmons this season. While it’s certainly better than last season’s unit that featured Ryan Gomes and Al-Farouq Aminu, the Butler-Simmons combo still leaves much to be desired on each side of the floor.
Butler is a highly-talented offensive player, but doesn’t provide much without the ball in his hands. And even then, he’s far from the most efficient scorer in the league. Simmons is a streaky shooter that wasn’t even in the league until L.A. scooped him up off the scrap heap midway through this season.
Defensively, these guys are far closer to the problem than the solution.
Odom would give the Clippers much more versatility than they currently have. The roster will surely change between now and the beginning of next season, but we do know that the core group of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Butler will still all be present. Theoretically, the club could use the amnesty clause to eliminate the remaining two years and $16 million owed to Butler, but that probably wouldn’t be the most wise way to use it.
At 6’10″, Odom can play any position on the floor from one-to-four. He can guard the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge on one end, and bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense on the other. One thing the Clippers’ offense currently lacks is a guy not named Chris Paul that can run the offense and present matchup problems for other teams.
Of course, all of this hinges upon whether or not Lamar Odom would be really willing to play for any team other than the Lakers. Based on his brief stint with the Mavericks, that’s no small matter.
However, if he does indeed buy-in and would just be happy to be back in L.A. again, Lamar Odom and the 2012-13 Los Angeles Clippers sounds pretty, pretty sweet.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.