The Mavericks will probably play the Sacramento Kings tonight with a full complement of players (Kidd, Ian to return), which won't include Lamar Odom. The reigning 6th man of the year and the front office parted ways yesterday, ending an experiment that hasn't worked out for both sides. Odom finishes the season with 11.6 Points on 35.2% shooting, both career lows.The Mavs tried to figure it out for 57 games, but with nine games left and a playoff berth in danger, time has ultimately run out.
This is a big blow to the Mavs aspirations this year. It's not that Odom leaves a glaring hole in the rotation with the way he played, but he was supposed to be the biggest addition in the off-season and although he fell short in every possible way, the Mavs were still hoping that he would somehow turn the corner. It won't happen. With a dedicated and productive Odom the Mavs probably would have been a lock for a Top4 finish, without him, unproductive or inactive, they apparently are not. Parting ways with Odom might solve some locker issues or on-court struggles, as Odom would suck the life out of the team at times, but only a fool would believe that this is the only thing that separates the Mavericks from the Lakers, Spurs, Thunder, Bulls or Heat.
They surely are a better team without him as of now and fans wanted the departure for weeks, but the difference between a (potentially) decent Odom and no Odom is rather big. As constructed and the way the team has played since the All-Star Break, it could be questioned whether the Mavs should have just stayed with Odom, hoping, because their chances of a deep playoff run are slim anyhow and of course the forward had the biggest room for improvement. But with the playoffs around the corner, one would assume the team had the feeling that he isn't capable or willing or whatever to improve this season and therefore an addition by subtraction is the only upgrade the Mavs could get from him.
Lamar now probably competes with guys like Danny Fortson or Antoine Walker for the most disappointing player in in the Dirk era, and he's surely in the lead for the most hated one.
The situation forces Rick Carlisle to be creative with the frontcourt rotation. It's likely that Shawn Marion will back up Dirk, which means more minutes for Vince Carter at the small forward spot. This could also mean an alteration of the starting unit, which could be a good thing anyway because Carter provided very little as of late. Newly acquired and called-up Kelenna Azubuike could also step in for Marion, but his call-up isn't necessarily an indication, because the season of the legends is over and it seems that this move would have been made anyhow.
The drop of Odom also erased any excuses going forward. Minor issues that have been shadowed by Lamar should now spotlight at a higher rate. The Mavs basically send a message that they won't wait for players to figure it out and nine games before the playoffs they got to make a push with what's working and have to build a rotation. Rodrigue Beaubois immediately comes to mind. Although he showed flashes this season and Delonte West struggled as a backup in the absence of Jason Kidd as well, it's save to assume that they trust Delonte over Roddy at this point and the Frenchman could be the next in line, just like last year when the Mavs chose DeShawn Stevenson over him late in the season. Right before Kidd got injured, Roddy picked up two DNP-CDs.
It's really hard to evaluate anything. The Mavs probably are better off without Odom, but will they be able to fix all the other issues they got? We'll find out starting tonight.