Personal issues surrounding an illness with his father have kept Lamar Odom away from the Mavericks since before the All-Star break.
But it’s more than just that — the entire fit with Dallas has been poor this season. Odom has not seemed happy and he is not one of those players who can compartmentalize his life and game — how he feels off the court bleeds over on the court.
Odom sat down and met with owner Mark Cuban Wednesday to map out his return to the Mavericks and to productivity, reports Marc Stein at ESPN. A return that could happen by this weekend.
While the team was in Memphis Wednesday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban met in Dallas with Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, to work on a timetable that would ease Odom back after his weeklong personal leave, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
Cuban has said the Mavs will not buy out Odom’s deal, and befitting a player-friendly owner Cuban has said Odom can have as much time as he needs to work out his personal issues.
If Dallas is going to make any kind of magical playoff run again, it’s going to need Odom. And not this year’s 7.7 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting Odom, either. They need to have last season’s Sixth Man of the Year, 14.4 points on 53 percent shooting, incredibly versatile Odom back. The best player in the NBA at grabbing the rebound and then leading the break. The matchup nightmare.
Odom has not been comfortable this season from the time he learned the Lakers were close to trading him in the Chris Paul deal (that was killed by the league). He is not a guy who can just easily put those kinds of things aside and play. But the Mavs have to find a way to make him comfortable soon.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.