It seems like Lamar Odom remains a mystery to the Mavericks organization. Kobe offered some help in saying that only he knows how to use Odom's skill-set properly and that he hopes the Mavs will never find out. I see! Thanks man!
Many fans still think Odom just isn't trying and it's really hard to find some contradictory points. The Mavs still hope that Odom magically will turn the corner some time, but in fact he's getting worse as the regular season is in its final five weeks and the Mavericks have to play tons of quality opponents down the stretch:
Rick Carlisle used P36 minute stats to point out Odom's improvements earlier this season and you'll see the comparison between the numbers before and after the All-Star Game above. Odom returned March, 3rd, after he had been excused over the break for family issues. We learned last week that rumors about him asking for a buyout at that time were indeed true. So he was serious about parting ways with the Champions, which was not granted, and it shows. He averages slightly more assists and fewer turnovers per 36, but every other category experienced a drop-off.
And recently Carlisle showed signs of moving on without Odom. Lamar picked up a DNP-CD against the Spurs on Saturday and posted incredible underwhelming lines against the Lakers (24 minutes) and the Rockets (13 minutes). The Coach said he spoke to Odom about using a different rotation against the Spurs and he in fact played sort of an 8-man playoff rotation, without Odom. Before that the former Laker played for about 20 minutes a night despite his atrocious performance, representing the willingness to get him going.
But the "biggest win of the season" against the Rockets shows that the Mavericks don't have the time to get Lamar comfortable within the system any longer. The Western Conference is a tight affair: The Mavs easily could grab homecourt in the first round and the 4th seed, but are only 1.5 games in front of a possible playoff elimination as well. Dirk Nowitzki said the playoffs have already started for the Mavs and you know how Carlisle responds to such urgency: He plays his reliable pieces. Odom played all 13 minutes yesterday in the first half. He couldn't produce, so the Mavs went on without him in the second half and overtime.
With Delonte West hopefully returning next week, the Mavs have no reason to play Carter at the shooting guard any longer, because the backcourt will be stacked with Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and West, which could make Carter a full time small forward, backing up Shawn Marion. That relieves the defensive specialist of playing time that he could spend backing up Dirk. And then there's Kelenna Azubuike, who could also crack the forward rotation, moving Odom to the end of the bench.
Although the Mavs still have hopes that Lamar will finally show up for the remainder and the playoffs, Carlisle and the front office made moves that showed their willingness to finish the season without their biggest pickup before the season. Sure, a committed Odom would make the Mavs much more versatile and would create matchup horrors for any team in the league, but as long as he continues to play like he has been since the ASG, don't be surprised about a "DNP-CD" in the boxscore.