(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from the Dallas Mavericks' Monday practice after the organization and forward Lamar Odom mutually agreed to part ways.
Practice Report (04/09/12)
DALLAS — To say that Monday was an eventful day at the American Airlines Center would certainly be an understatement.
After back-to-back losses to Portland and Memphis over the weekend, the Dallas Mavericks returned to the practice court looking to right the ship while trying to move up from the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings. But before the team had a chance to reconvene, there had already been two changes made to the roster as the organization mutually parted ways with forward Lamar Odom before calling up swingman Kelenna Azubuike from the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends.
Azubuike practiced with the Mavericks (31-26) on Monday and is expected to be with the team for the remainder of the season after signing as a free agent on March 23 before an immediate assignment to the Legends. He appeared in seven games and averaged 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds with the Legends.
“Well, their season is over with the D-League, so he’s going to join us on a full-time basis now,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Azubuike. “And he’ll be practicing with us, he’ll be with the team. Whether or not he’ll be active will be a game-to-game decision based on the health situation of our club. But this is an opportunity for him to get acquainted with our guys and for us to integrate him in how we play.”
More importantly, the Mavs began the process of moving on from Odom after the December acquisition struggled to career-low numbers while averaging 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 20.5 minutes in addition to 35.2 percent shooting and 25.2 percent from three-point range.
Odom will be inactive for the rest of the season and will not rejoin the team, according to GM Donnie Nelson.
“By mutual agreement, the Dallas Mavericks and Lamar think it is in the best interest of both parties to part ways for the rest of the year,” Nelson told reporters Monday. “He has been placed on the inactive list and will not be with the team for the rest of the year. I know it’s been a difficult and frustrating year for our fans, Lamar and ourselves. We just think it is in the best interest of everyone to do this at this time.”
He added: “The timing is what it is. These things never come at the best of times. And so, we felt with the playoff push coming up, it was probably in everybody’s best interest. Look, it’s been a frustrating situation. Lamar hasn’t performed the way he wants to perform and is capable of performing, he’s dealt with a lot of personal issues and at this point we need to be able to count on some folks. It’s never easy to do these things, and we just need to move on.”
The team then prepared to turn the page, welcoming back point guard Jason Kidd and backup big man Ian Mahinmi as the defending champs try to bounce back from their two narrow defeats.
Kidd was a light participant in practice after missing four games due to a strained right groin. Meanwhile, Mahinmi returned after missing two games due to the birth of his daughter. Now, with both expected to be available for Tuesday night’s contest against the second-worst team in the West, the Sacramento Kings, the Mavericks will try to build some much-needed momentum heading into the final nine games of the regular season.
“Our main focus right now is trying to get in the playoffs,” sixth man Jason Terry explained. “Bottom line is Sacramento is coming to town and we have to win this game. This is a must-win ballgame, and say what you want, but we have to win. There’s no other way out of this game tomorrow.
“Again, our focus is strictly on Sacramento. That’s what we said when we came in today, after Donnie made his decision, we said our focus is Sacramento and getting into the playoffs. We’ve got nine games left. You know what I mean? I don’t know when the last time a team won a championship and not made it to the playoffs. I don’t know when it was … and I don’t want that to repeat. So, as a leader of this team, I’m saying our focus is primarily on Sacramento and beating them tomorrow.”
Note: The Mavericks return home to the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night when they compete against the Sacramento Kings before beginning a four-game road trip. The two teams are tied in the season series at 1-1 after both won by double digits on their own home floor. The game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).