The NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year, who was shipped to Dallas after the Los Angeles Lakers tried to send him to New Orleans in the Chris Paul deal that was nixed by the league, will not play the rest of the season for the Mavericks, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.
Odom told ESPN.com that he and the defending champions decided it was “in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team.”
The Lakers felt compelled to move the 6-10 forward after he was included in the Paul trade, and the Mavericks considered it a low-risk move to use a trade exception from the deal that sent Tyson Chandler to the New York Knicks.
Odom never seemed happy or comfortable in Dallas, not even when wife and reality TV co-star Khloe Kardashian was in the stands just a few feet from the Mavericks bench. His averages of 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 20.5 minutes were career lows, and he was booed by the home crowd as the sluggish performances multiplied.
The low point appeared to come Saturday night, when he played just four minutes in a 94-89 loss at Memphis. Asked after the game about the situation, Odom simply shrugged his shoulders. Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who defended Odom all season, simply said “I’m done talking about that,” after the Memphis game.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hoped Odom could fill a void after the team decided against re-signing Chandler, considered a key piece of the championship team because of his leadership skills and strong defensive presence.
The decision on Chandler was widely viewed as something that would give the Mavericks flexibility to pursue free agents this summer _ notably Dwight Howard and Deron Williams _ but Cuban maintained the addition of Odom’s ability to shoot, pass and defend gave the Mavs a strong chance to defend their crown.
Without Odom, the Mavericks lose their best backup to Nowitzki. The team said Monday it was recalling guard-forward Kelenna Azubuike from the NBA Development League. He hasn’t played in the NBA since injuring a knee two seasons ago and averaged 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in seven games with the Texas Legends.
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