Lamar Odom, Mavs agree to go separate ways

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Lamar Odom, Mavs agree to go separate ways

From Comcast SportsNetDALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks and Lamar Odom are done with each other.The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year and the defending NBA champions who are trying to make sure they get back to the playoffs made it clear Monday that the partnership is over after an underwhelming 50-game stint."We've got to be able to look down that bench and count on folks to be consistent," general manager Donnie Nelson said. "Unfortunately with him in his state right now, he's just not capable of doing that. I say that with his best interest in mind. He's going through a very, very tough personal time. We certainly understand that. But we're in the thick of it in the West and we've got to win games."Odom will be on the inactive list and not play again for the Mavericks, who were seventh in the Western Conference standings with nine games left in the regular season.Even when wife and reality TV co-star Khloe Kardashian was in the stands near the Mavericks bench, Odom never seemed happy or comfortable in Dallas. His averages of 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 20.5 minutes were career lows, and he was booed by the home crowd as the sluggish performances multiplied.Odom agreed with Nelson that it was a mutual decision for him to step away from the team."I'm sorry that things didn't work out better for both of us," Odom told ESPN.com. "But I wish the Mavs' organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship."Odom was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to Dallas in a deal just before the lockout-shortened season.The Lakers seemed compelled to move the 6-foot-10 forward after trying to send him to New Orleans in a Chris Paul deal that was nixed by the league. For the Mavericks, it was considered a low-risk move to use the trade exception from a deal that sent Tyson Chandler to the New York Knicks.The ending in Dallas came almost as abruptly."These things never come at the best of times, so we felt with the playoff push coming up it was probably in everyone's best interest," Nelson said. "Look, it's been a frustrating situation. Lamar hasn't performed like he wants to perform, is capable of performing. ... We just need to move on."Nelson said the decision wasn't made sooner because there was hope at some point "the light goes on" for Odom. But that never happened, even after being away from the team for four games around the All-Star break for personal reasons.Asked if the Mavs felted cheated by Odom, Nelson insisted they didn't "because the player that he was last year, there's reasons for that not happening this year, some of which none of us will know."During the lockout last summer, Odom's 24-year-old cousin was murdered. Days after that, Odom was involved in a fatal car accident that killed a teen pedestrian after the car he was riding in as a passenger collided with a motorcycle.Odom played only four minutes in a 94-89 loss at Memphis on Saturday night, his last game with Dallas. Asked afterward about the situation, Odom simply shrugged his shoulders. Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who defended Odom all season, simply said "I'm done talking about that," after the Memphis game.Nowitzki and Jason Kidd exited practice Monday through a side door without talking to reporters."It's time to turn the page," said coach Rick Carlisle, who had grown weary of the constant questions about Odom. "I'm not going to comment on it any further."Jason Terry said the team's main focus is trying to get into the playoffs, starting with Tuesday night's game at home against Sacramento. He had little to say about Odom."It's always tough to adjust to a new situation. And for whatever reason it didn't work out for him," Terry said. "We wish him the best. He's a great dude."Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who didn't comment Monday, hoped Odom could fill a void after the team decided against re-signing Chandler, considered a key piece of the championship team because of his leadership skills and strong defensive presence.The decision on Chandler was widely viewed as something that would give the Mavericks flexibility to pursue free agents this summer -- notably Dwight Howard and Deron Williams -- but Cuban maintained the addition of Odom's ability to shoot, pass and defend gave the Mavs a strong chance to defend their crown.Odom still has a year left on his four-year contract. Any team that has the 13-year veteran on its roster on June 29 must give him a 2.4 million buyout or be responsible for the full 8.2 million he would be due in 2012-13.Without Odom, the Mavericks lose one of their primary backups for Nowitzki."We'll adjust. We've got other guys," Carlisle said. "I really feel we have other guys that are ready to step up, so that's what we'll do."Notes: The Mavericks recalled guard-forward Kelenna Azubuike from the NBA Development League. He hasn't played in the NBA since injuring a knee two seasons ago. Nelson said Dallas realistically is looking toward next year with Azubuike. ... Kidd could play Tuesday after missing four games with a strained right groin.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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USATSI

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

There was a lot of complaining about the lack of defense in this year’s All-Star Game, as though last year’s All-Star Game didn’t happen.

But the Most Valuable Player, which was putatively Anthony Davis for scoring a record 52 points in front of his home crowd, was actually the man with the fewest minutes of all.

Yes, the man, the god, The DeMarcus Cousins. The Very Definition Of A Sacramento King, By Becoming An Ex-Sacramento King.

Cousins, now the second-best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, played only two minutes Sunday, the lowest total by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971, ostensibly because he told head coach Steve Kerr he was a little ouchy, but more likely because the Kings were frantically trying to trade him and didn’t want him hurting himself in a game with even no contact whatsoever.

Not during the All-Star Break, mind you. DURING THE ALL-STAR GAME ITSELF! Adam Silver must have been vomiting hedgehogs into a bucket at the very thought.

As it turns out, the Kings, who have sworn up and down that they would never consider trading Cousins, did that very thing, closing a deal to send Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway (who is likely to be waived in true Kings fashion) and 2016 first-rounder Buddy Hield.

You remember Buddy Hield. He’s the guy who clocked Cousins in the joy division going around a Cousins pick during the last Pelicans-Kings game, and got tossed for doing so.

In other words, the Kings prefer the guy who punched their best player in the goolies to their best player. This is so Kingsy.

But on the back end, Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, said Cousins is disinclined to sign a long-term contract with his next team, making him a rental who could some day return to Sacramento in a Groundhog's Day remake that would cause the Oroville Dam to get up and walk off the job.

This too is so Kingsy.

This is the greatness of the Kings. They blew up the All-Star weekend during the game itself. They blew it up trying to get rid of their best player when they are within fighting distance of their first playoff spot in 11 years. They blew it up after saying they weren’t considering trading the dynamite at all.

Kingsy, Kingsy, Kingsy. It’s Kingstastic!

And the best part of it all is that the trade leaves everyone deflated and confused and ultimately angry, while the Kings undervalued their only marketable player to invest in a future they have mocked for decades.

You know what we;’re talking about. Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an N-G-S, throw an extraneous Y on the end of it what does it spell?

Yeah. Right.

It’s remarkable thing, being a King. While we have all amused ourselves with the machinations of the thick-as-two-short-planks New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, the Kings have been Kinging this way for most of the last 35 years.

And now, they have decided to feed their obsession with the Golden State Warriors by running even further away from them, by tossing their only bargaining chip for a future player or players that they typically ruin, and Buddy Hield, who just found out that even at these prices life can still be cruel.

Give them their due, though. The Kings could win the NBA title and hock the trophy. They could be invited to the White House when the President is off playing golf. They could increase their Forbes valuation to $5 billion and declare bankruptcy.

Because they are the Kings, and that sentence has rarely meant more than it does now.

Not because they traded Cousins. Trades happen all the time. Wilt Chamberlain got traded twice.

But the Kings handled this with all the skill of a pickpocket with feet where his hands should be. They lied unconvincingly. They talked hard business and ended up with a nebulous deal that guarantees nothing except more speculation come summer. And they have nothing else to trade between now and . . . well, whenever they stopped being so damned Kingsy.

For New Orleans, it is a roll of the dice, an attempt to make the playoffs with a two-headed monster in Cousins and Davis. It may be too much to giver, but without knowing how the Kings will screw up those picks, it remains speculative at best.

Indeed, this is subtraction by subtraction, the standard Kings deal. And whatever the Kings have gained in this trade (hey, you never know), we remain safe in saying that they did it in such a Kingsy way that they may never top this.

Until the next time they do anything at all. Never doubt the power of Kingsiness.