Odom’s 119 inept days in Dallas

A quick check of history reveals the saying “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” came from a 1785 Scottish poem by Robert Burns. Before translation, however, the original makes English sound like a foreign language:

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”

After reading that, I was sure I had found the perfect introduction for a treatise on Lamar Odom’s career in Dallas. He may have been speaking English during his 119-day career as a Maverick, but no one understood.

Obtaining Odom was part of a plan by Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson that seemed so brilliant at the time. The Mavericks acquired the reigning Sixth Man of the year without giving up any talent.

But it ended disastrously with the Mavericks announcing Monday that Odom would no longer be welcome on the team. He wasn’t bought out; he was simply asked to vacate the premises in a storyfirst reported by ESPN.com, which also pointed out that even if Odom had been released, it is too late in the season to sign with another contender.

Cuban and Nelson – the Mavericks’ owner and general manager – will forever be baffled on how a player as gifted as Odom could have completely lost his skills.

Odom averaged 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists during his career. At 6-10, he is more than capable of running the point. He’s not Magic Johnson, but he is a tall man who can dribble, pass and mix it up underneath. He was an integral part of two championship teams in Los Angeles. He was the center for Team USA in 2010 when the Americans won the World Championship for the first time since 1994.

He was also the bridge of a grand plan by Cuban and Nelson to get from the championship season of 2010-11 to the formation of a potential dynasty in 2012-13. Although his skill set is vastly different from Tyson Chandler’s, Odom was going to add a dimension lost when Chandler signed a four-year deal with the Knicks in the off-season.

Odom could not replace Chandler’s rebounding or defense, but he brought that package of superior skills that would enable the Mavericks to go about it a different way, but still challenge for a title.

And then in the offseason, when several big Mavericks contracts will expire, the plan was to pursue free agents and make offers to Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard. Add one or both to a lineup with Dirk Nowitzki and the result would be a powerhouse team.

It did seem on paper to be a solid plan – not a sure thing by any means. But it was like doubling down on an 11 in blackjack. It was good strategy.

(To see original column on Sheridanhoops.com, click here.)

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