Mark Cuban: Clash was 'the end'
Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein [ARCHIVE]
ESPN.com
April 11, 2012
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DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, saying he hopes Lamar Odom's departure is "addition by subtraction," confirmed that a heated halftime confrontation between the owner and 13-year veteran was the breaking point that prompted the team and player to part ways.

During halftime of his final game with the Mavs, Odom and Cuban had the exchange in the visitors locker room Saturday night in Memphis.

Sources told ESPNDallas.com the heated words were "the culmination" of an exasperating weekend, when Odom was tardy to the team's Friday home game against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Saturday morning meeting in Memphis. That convinced team officials to initiate discussions on Easter Sunday that led to the parties agreeing to split for the rest of the season.

Cuban confirmed Tuesday evening the crux of the heated halftime confrontation was Cuban questioning Odom's commitment. Odom, who had played only four minutes in the first half, reacted angrily to the question, shouting "stop playing games" several times. Odom did not take his seat on the bench until after the third quarter began.

"Well, yeah," Cuban said when asked whether that exchange was the final straw. "Just his response to it. Everybody goes through ups and downs. Every player does. We tried to put him in a position to succeed. You guys saw it, saw what we did. It didn't work.

"And I just asked him, does he want to go for it or not? Is he in or is he out? I think he thought we were playing poker. I just didn't get a commitment. And that was the end."

This was not the first time that Cuban had confronted Odom during a game. During a March 6 win over the New York Knicks, Cuban shouted at Odom from the owner's seat near the Mavs bench after the forward's failure to hustle back on defense resulted in an uncontested layup for New York's Landry Fields. Cuban and Odom both downplayed that incident at the time, with Cuban pointing out that he's a passionate fan who frequently yells at players.

Cuban admitted Tuesday that Odom's lack of commitment, which manifested itself in a lack of effort on the floor and habitual tardiness to team meetings, practices and shootarounds despite living across the street from the American Airlines Center, had been an issue all season.

Cuban said he tried to turn the situation into a positive "the first 17 times," but, with the defending NBA champions fighting for a playoff berth, the organization finally lost patience with Odom.

"We hope it's addition by subtraction," Cuban said. "Just put him in the Tariq Abdul-Wahad category and move on."

Abdul-Wahad, a name uttered with disdain in the Dallas front office, played a total of 18 games for the Mavericks after being acquired in a blockbuster trade from the Denver Nuggets in 2002. Abdul-Wahad was banished from the team, but he remained on the Mavs' payroll for five seasons.

Cuban had been among Odom's staunchest supporters all season, spending two days meeting with Odom and agent Jeff Schwartz while the Mavs were on the road in the midst of a nine-game, 12-day stretch at the end of the veteran's 10-day midseason personal leave.

Cuban, saying "every home run hitter strikes out every now and then," acknowledged that the trade that brought Odom to Dallas in December was a bad swing and a miss.

Schwartz orchestrated the trade after the Los Angeles Lakers attempted to include Odom in the David Stern-vetoed deal that would have paired Chris Paul in a backcourt with Kobe Bryant. The Mavs sent a protected first-round pick and a trade exception -- acquired from the Knicks in the Tyson Chandler sign-and-trade deal -- for the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Odom never meshed with the Mavs. He revealed early in the season that he considered taking a hiatus from basketball after a traumatic offseason that included the deaths of his cousin and a teenage pedestrian involved in an accident when Odom was a passenger in an SUV.

Cuban said he knew of Odom's emotional baggage before trading for him, understanding that was one reason why the Lakers made him available.

"My job is to look at every player, employee, whatever and just treat them individually and put them in a position to succeed," Cuban said. "I've failed miserably on this one. It's not the first time and won't be the last time. Move on to the next."

Odom averaged career lows in points (6.6), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.7), shooting percentage (35.2) and minutes (20.5) during his abbreviated season with the Mavericks. Odom's poor effort and production led Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to liken relying on him with the season on the line to "going to war with wet gunpowder."

As poorly as Odom performed, the Mavs were 0-7 when he has not played this season before Tuesday's home win over the Sacramento Kings.

"It's just time to turn the page," said coach Rick Carlisle, who has otherwise declined to discuss Odom since Saturday night's loss.

The Mavs still owe Odom the remainder of his $8.9 million salary this season. The Mavericks intend to simply list him as inactive for the rest of the season.

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.

"Did I get my money's worth? No," Cuban said. "I don't know that the word's 'cheated.' But did I get my money's worth? No."

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