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Lamar Odom Still Not With Mavericks, Cuban Denies Buyout Rumors

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(SB Nation Dallas, Jonathan Tjarks) In a bizarre story that has left many NBA observers baffled, Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom is still away from the team after missing last Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers for "personal reasons".

Initial reports indicated that Odom had flown back to LA to help care for his ailing father, but TMZ cameras unexpectedly bumped into Joe Odom late last week, with Lamar's father stating that he merely had a stomach virus.

That, in turn, caused many to question whether Odom, who has struggled adjusting his game to playing with Dirk Nowitzki, was headed for a buyout before the trade deadline, something which Marc Cuban vigorously refuted in an e-mail exchange with ESPN Dallas on Monday:

"We haven't discussed a buyout and we wouldn't do a buyout. No chance that happens at all. We want to help Lamar work through any personal issues and expect him to be a valuable contributor to the Mavs this season. Players go through challenges from time to time and we try to be (an) organization that fully supports our players when things are challenging for them. We will do the same for Lamar."

With so little reliable information to go on, and the Mavericks firmly standing behind Odom, there's no way to really know what's going on behind the scenes for the mercurial power forward.

For now, Dallas fans will have to hope that he can get whatever personal issues are troubling him resolved before the stretch run towards the NBA playoffs really begins.

He is not expected to play in their game Tuesday against the New Jersey Nets.

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