The Mavericks and Odom spent Easter Sunday working out a parting, according to sources close to the situation, that frees the struggling Odom to leave the team immediately without actually being released.
“The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it’s in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team,” Odom said in a statement to ESPN.com.
“I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.”
Sources said Monday that Odom’s departure will be immediate and that the Mavericks intend to simply list him as inactive for the rest of the season instead of outright releasing him, leaving open the possibility that they could still trade him after the season in conjunction with the draft. Any team that has Odom on its roster as of June 29 must buy him out by that date for $2.4 million or otherwise accept responsibility for the full $8.2 million that Odom is scheduled to earn in 2012-13.
Even if either side had pushed for a formal release, there is little upside to taking that step now with Odom ineligible to play in the playoffs with another team because he wasn’t waived before the March 23 deadline.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban said via email he had nothing to add when asked to comment on Odom’s departure.
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said it was in “the best interest of everyone to do this at this time.”
“I know it’s been a difficult and frustrating year for our fans, for Lamar and for ourselves,” Nelson said in a news conference.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t want to comment on Odom’s departure further than Nelson had, though said the team wouldn’t have trouble filling Odom’s playing time.
“We’ll adjust. We’ve got other guys,” Nelson said. “I really feel that we have other guys that are ready to step up. So that’s what we’ll do.” One source close to the 32-year-old told ESPN.com that the decision sets Odom up to “clear his head and start getting ready for next season” after his career-low numbers and minutes continued to dip as the season wore on.