I wrote everything you see below ... and then this happened:
Mavs decide they need Lamar Odom ASAP for tonight's game against Utah. D-League stint canceled. Story w/Jeff Caplan going up now @ESPNDallas— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 3, 2012
I like to believe the Mavs thought better of their decision after reading my thoughts. The original story is below.
Lamar Odom will make his NBA Development League debut on Saturday night when the Dallas Mavericks forward joins their D-League affiliate for what is expected to be a one-game stint. There are probably plenty of factors happening behind the scenes, but even the public statements aren't adding up as to what the exact reason is regarding Odom's assignment.
One thing's for sure: Odom isn't going to be playing for the Legends against the Austin Toros in hopes of developing his game, despite the league's name. The former Los Angeles Lakers do-it-all forward is either going to be playing in the D-League as a form of punishment from the Mavs for his "personal problems" or the player himself decided to ask for a D-League assignment to get his legs under him after missing a couple of weeks due to being away from the game of basketball due to said problems.
If it's the former, the Mavericks are sending an abysmal message to everyone involved -- the players on the D-League team they own, Odom and everyone else hoping to see the NBA develop a true minor league system. If it's the latter, however, Odom has decided to use the new D-League rules collectively bargained this fall exactly as intended.
Unfortunately there's no telling which is which as both sides have given off contrasting vibes regarding the one night only dog and pony show scheduled to feature Odom and the Legends.
The always excellent Kelly Dwyer wrote on Friday that "Lamar Odom's sad downward spiral continues as he's demoted to the D-League" and just maybe that's right, if not a bit over the top. I received quite a bit of feedback from people that bristled at the "demotion to the D-League" portion because the 'D' is supposed to stand for development, not any other D-word (or letter grade, for that matter).
Odom's agent wasn't fond of the move being considered a demotion, either, releasing the following statement to ESPN's Marc Stein:
"The whole idea of going to the D-League was Lamar's," Jeff Schwartz said. "He proposed it to the Mavs; they never asked him. He wanted to get some floor time in actual game conditions before rejoining the team. People need to educate themselves on the rules in place here. NBA veterans don't get sent to the D-League without their consent."
Excellent! Great! That's exactly what the new rehab rule -- allowing players with more than two years of NBA experience to be assigned to the D-League with their consent -- was intended for! Odom's been away from the game awhile, too, so it'd make sense that he'd rather get some gametime in against the likes of DaSean Butler and Leo Lyons instead of Paul Millsap and Josh Howard while he gets his lungs ready for action.
Unfortunately for everyone, however, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle made comments that seem to go almost exactly against the grain Odom and his agent had given us:
"There is a personal issue here and we do not know the extent of it or the details of it," Carlisle said. "There is a fine line between compassion, which our owner is showing, and gross insensitivity."
"I'm disappointed," Carlisle continued, "with the way the whole thing's gone. We've worked hard with this kid. I'm a patient guy, Mark is a patient guy, Donnie is a patient guy, our team is a patient team, but patience has worn thin here.
"... This is serious business. The business of winning NBA basketball games is serious business. This is not easy. It's not easy to win a game in the NBA. ... We need people that are engaged and we need people that are into it."
Well, then, uh ... the Mavs are "disappointed" in Odom, saying he's shown "gross insensitivity" and that their "patience has worn thin," but we're not supposed to believe that Odom's D-League assignment is a flat-out demotion rather than a simple stint to allow him to get back into basketball shape? Alrighty ... now this case sounds a lot like the time the New Jersey Nets assigned Terrence Williams to the D-League.
D-League "demotions" don't help anyone in the long run as the player is going to have a bad attitude while taking away valuable playing time from players interested in actually developing.
Your's truly is probably the most disappointed at hearing "demotion" and "D-League" in the same sentence considering I make a decent portion of my living based upon the notion that it's capable of being so much more. Unfortunately, however, it's tough to make excuses for as to why the Development League would be housing the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year and a spot-starter on a pair of championship teams.
Hopefully this assignment comes and goes, nothing is said of it again and we can all go about our days thinking happy thoughts about how cool it'd be to spend a day as Squeaky Johnson like usual. Judging by the comments excerpted above, however, there's still going to be at least one more memoir written before this mess is cleaned up.