Lamar Odom's Dallas experiment ended badly. He was deactivated twice while struggling to find his game, and now it appears the Mavericks will be looking to deal him as early as Thursday night's draft.
Odom ended up in Dallas after he was part of a vetoed three way deal that would have sent him to the New Orleans Hornets, Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul to the Lakers last offseason. When that deal fell through, Odom publically announced that he felt disrespected, by the Lakers and demanded a trade to another contending team.
A few days later, on Dec. 11, he was shipped to Dallas for a first-round pick and an $8.9 trade exemption.
By Mar. 2, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year had been demoted to the D-League, being unable to find his role in the Dallas offense. On April 9, he was deactivated for the remainder of the season after posting averages of 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and just 20.5 minutes per game for Dallas, all career lows.
Odom has a team option for $8.2 million dollars for next season, something the Mavericks are not likely to exercise. The contract also contains a $2.4 million buyout clause should the Mavs decide to give Odom his outright release.
Dallas would prefer to trade him as they would be able to get something back in return. A buyout costs them money and gets them nothing in return for an asset.
The most likely destination for Odom in a trade is a return to the Lakers. Odom has a reputation for not playing very hard when he doesn't feel motivated, and being back among his friends in L.A. might be the only way to make him feel comfortable.
He still has many friends on the roster who have said they would welcome him back if the opportunity arose, and the Lakers are certainly a better team with Odom, Gasol and Andrew Bynum rotating down low.
The problem for the Lakers will be paying Odom. Because they are well over the salary cap (Kobe Bryant's deal is more than half of the cap number) The Lakers would have to find a way to match Odom's $8.2 million dollar price tag in the deal.
It is unknown what kind of interest either team would have for that kind of deal. Maybe a trade could be worked out, but there is possibly a more attractive landing spot for Odom in California.
The Los Angeles Clippers, the team that drafted Odom, have emerged as a possible contender in the Western Conference. With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, L.A.'s other team has legitimate star power. They also have an incredible amount of money coming off the books this season with Randy Foye, Nick Young, Chauncey Billips, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Bobby Simons, Solomon Jones and Courtney Fortson all having their contracts expire.
Odom could be an attractive option for the Clippers, with the frontcourt players expected to return for the 2012-2013 season. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are a formidable one-two punch but Odom could slot in nicely to form a similar rotation to the Lakers.
Odom also has the outside game to play as a swingman for brief stretches, meaning the Clippers could send out Paul, Young, Odom, Griffin and Jordan as a starting five if they wanted to.
The Clippers could land Odom more easily without needing to deal away quite so much to make the money work. The big stumbling block to a deal with the Clippers is Odom. He may force a move to the Lakers and nowhere else.
Odom will likely have a new home by sun up tomorrow and it is highly likely that it will be back in his old stomping grounds in southern California.