Dallasbasketball.com has learned that the Mavs are working on taking a significant step that would allow Odom's return to the Lakers this summer, opening up multiple avenues.
A highly-placed league insider tells us the Mavs are already pursuing a revision to Odom's contract that would move his deadline to buy out his last year at $2.4 million from June 29, 2012 to some time in July, a contractual change that is permitted by the league with mutual agreement from both player and team.
That would make a major difference in Odom's future possibilities, especially as it pertains to the Lakers.
The primary difference that revision permits is to open up a trade of Odom from Dallas to LA, which is not only his simplest route to the Lakers, but in many ways is the best choice for all parties involved. That option is currently blocked by the rule that disallows a player to be traded back to the same team in the same NBA season (which ends June 30), and the Mavs would not want to keep him past the June 29 deadline and take the chance of being committed to his $8.2 million salary for next season.
You should definitely read the rest of this article -- it has an excellent breakdown on the incentives for both sides (and Odom and Jeff Schwartz) to get this deal done and how it changes the summer for the Mavericks.
In short, this is fantastic news. The Odom trade chip has always theoretically been the Mavs' best trade asset, but the Mavs' need to unload his deal before June 29 (combined with his utterly inexplicable failure to live up to his contract) restricted our options. Now we have at least one team -- the Lakers -- that could legitimately be very interested in acquiring him, and the luxury of using him in a trade to match salaries during the July free agency period.
I'm still not sold that this deal will go down. The Lakers are in real luxury tax trouble and Jim Buss is said to want to slash payroll over the next few years. But it's undeniable that he would be back in his comfort zone in L.A. and they sorely missed a lot of his production this year. Many sources have reported that Kobe Bryant wants him back as well, so that can't hurt. In the end, if any team would be interested in Odom after the embarrassment of a season he gave us, it would be the Lakers.
After all the stress of wondering what's in Deron Williams' head and who we're going to pick in the draft, after the annoyance of watching the Thunder roll on to the Finals -- and look like they're going to be elite for a long, long time -- we needed something good, even if it was just an inkling of positive news.
Let's hope Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have something figured out and they pull off some deal that has us all shaking our heads and thinking, Damn, they're smart.