Lamar Odom

Phil Jackson reached out to Lamar Odom to help

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Things are not going well for Lamar Odom, on or off the court. Things were bad enough off the court he considered taking a year off — and that was before the Lakers tried to trade him. It was his wife Khloe Kardashian that encouraged him to get back out there.

Off the court issues reflected on the court with him not being mentally or physically ready for the start of the season. The man who was the sixth man of the year last season is averaging just 6.8 points per game. His PER has gone from a borderline All-Star 19.4 to a D-League level 7.4.

Now, Monday night, he heads back to the Staples Center to take on the Lakers.

It’s been hard to watch if you like Lamar (I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for the guy). Which is why Phil Jackson reached out to him, reports ESPNDallas.com (via KD at Ball Don’t Lie).

“He told me just to be strong and get myself together and get myself in that place mentally where I can use basketball as my sanctuary,” Odom said. “He said relearn to do that through meditation and other forms to get to a place where you kind of leave everything else behind and focus on the now, the moment. And that’s what I have to work on in order to put myself in a place where I can go out here and actually play the game like I used to play it.”

When people talk about how coaching at the professional level is really about managing people more than Xs and Os, this is example No. 1. Odom is a guy who thrives when he feels comfortable and accepted, so the Lakers trying to trade him (even for Chris Paul) hurt him. He didn’t want to go back, but then there is a whole new period of adaption in Dallas that is still going on.

Phil Jackson was a master at reading people and helping them get what they needed, so that basketball could be just about basketball. He is easy to play for that way. Rick Carlisle is certainly a good coach as well, but he is just learning about Odom. And learning the hard way at times.

But as Dallas starts to win and Odom starts to get comfortable, his versatility is really going to help that team.

Going back to the Staples Center… we’ll see how he deals with that.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.