Of course, the Lamar Odom saga can't wrap up without and drama or intrigue.
The most popular "sources" have told Mark Stein and ESPN Dallas that Odom should be returning to the active roster soon, maybe as close this weekend. It's still incredibly vague, much like the reason Odom has been away from the team.
First it was reported that his father was very ill and he wanted to be with him. Which totally makes sense, and was really tragic. Odom has been through enough – in the past year alone – and this would have been just another piece of horrible news to stack on his life to deal with. Then TMZ (the oh-so credible and hard hitting, investigative TMZ) reported that Joe Odom was only suffering from a stomach virus and is fine.
It definitely raises some red flags. Personally, I can't imagine going to my boss and asking for over a week off work to tend to my father who has come down with a stomach bug. There seems to be more to it than that, but who am I to judge what is really going on? Odom's been through way more than any one person should go through in his young life and while, yes, he is privileged to play a game for millions of dollars, that can't hide all the emotions from recent tragedies. If something related to Odom's family is hurting his mindset to play, he should take his time to take care of business.
This isn't unprecedented for Mark Cuban, who is very vocal about how important it is to him to allow his players to be where they need to be in a crucial time for one's family. The problem is just how crucial the family time Odom is using. But that's not for anyone to really debate except for those within the Mavericks and Odom. Everything else is just speculation.
There's no denying that Odom doesn't always appear engaged on the court and his play has been far below the standards he's set for himself in Los Angeles and Miami. What's most frustrating is practically every basketball excuse has been exhausted: it's deep enough into the season that he should be in shape and he's played enough games with the Mavericks to adjust to a non-triangle team. The biggest issues for Odom are usually effort related – not making a quick rotation, settling for outside jumpers (which he's never been good at, save for a few seasons here and there) or throwing a lazy pass. All of those things have embroiled Odom, who's supposed to be one of the nicest guys in the league, to every Mavs fans' jokes and rage.
The only thing to hope for now is Odom can get himself right between the ears and get back to the team with his family safe and OK. Until then, we'll wait.
It's all we can do.