HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Like any player making a major transition at this stage of his career, Lamar Odom is still trying to adjust to his new environment in Dallas.
He’s still trying to figure out where he fits on a Mavericks team that vanquished his Lakers in the playoffs last season, still trying to understand how best to utilize his vast array of skills in the same role that earned him Sixth Man of the Year honors last season in Los Angeles, but on a team that already had its own explosive sixth man in Jason Terry.
He’s averaging a career-low 6.8 points per game, basically half of what he produced last year for the Lakers, while playing a career-low 20 minutes a night. He also averaging 5.0 rebounds and shooting a meager 31.2 percent from the field and a putrid 18.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line while trying to find minutes in a crowded small forward field that also includes Shawn Marion and Vince Carter
It’s clear Odom is still trying to make sense of the sudden nature of it all … the trade, the game and where he fits into it all now that the Lakers are in his rear view. Well, except for tonight, of course, when the Mavericks hit the floor at the Staples Center to face off against his former team (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT).
Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times caught up with Odom and found out the reality TV star still has more questions than answers about why he is no longer wearing purple and gold:
“For them just to [try to] trade me without communicating, it made me start to ask myself questions like ‘Why would they do something like that?’ ” said Odom, who found out he was in the attempted [Chris] Paul trade from a Times reporter. “It hurt my feelings. Why would they choose to go that route? My father lives in California and I take care of my dad. They know about my family situation, everything about me, everything about Lamar.
“It was impossible for me not to take it personally. When I spoke to one of the representatives for the Lakers, the first thing he said was ‘Don’t take it personally.’ That means it’s personal if that’s the first thing someone says to you.”
If Odom has seen the highlights from the Clippers-Lakers city title game Saturday night, he’d know exactly why the Lakers included both he and Pau Gasol in the CP3 deal that was ultimately squashed by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Big fella, it had nothing to do with the reality show, your wife, Khloe Kardashian, sinister things that have been rumored. It was about the Lakers trying to bridge the gap between eras. It was about the franchise trying to fortify itself for the future with yet another game-changing superstar, Paul, to continue a tradition.
It really wasn’t anything personal. In fact, if they had a chance to do it all over again, the Lakers would be crazy not to do things exactly the same way (without the roadblock at the end, of course).
The upside for Odom, whether he realizes it now or not, is that he was traded to one of the only situations he could have gone to where what he brings to the table will be appreciated properly. The Mavericks have studied the Lakers enough over the years to know better than to put Odom in a predicament that does not suit his skills at this stage of his career.
He doesn’t have to worry about being miscast on a team that expects him to be something he’s not. Odom settled into a vital role with the Lakers, both as a utility man and complementary piece in a championship puzzle. He’ll work out his role with the Mavericks, coach Rick Carlisle will make sure of that.
None of that will take away the sting Odom feels after giving the Lakers everything he had the past seven seasons. Yes, he’s played basically his entire career in Los Angeles (the first four years with the Clippers followed by a year-long stint in Miami before joining the Lakers via trade), so much of what he has become in the league has come from his connection to that city.
He has every right to feel the way he feels about things and it absolutely should take him some time to get over the way things went down last month.
But in the end, it’s always just business, as Odom certainly is aware by now.