Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he won't go to the trouble of jumping through the hoops necessary to not pay Lamar Odom the remainder due on his $8.9 million salary.
Perhaps if Cuban would have sent Odom home after his All-Star break personal leave, he might have felt differently. But with just nine games left when Cuban finally banished Odom after their locker-room confrontation during halftime of Saturday's game at Memphis, Cuban said it's just not worth it.
"I could, but I'm not going to," Cuban said. "There's all kinds of things I could do, but I'm not going to."
Cuban will hope to trade him by June 29 so that the Mavs' 2012-13 payroll won't be burdened with the $2.4 million guaranteed on the final year of Odom's contract.
The full amount of Odom's final year is $8.2 million and even he surely knows that he will never see such a dollar figure ever again.
The question now is how much money did last season's Sixth Man of the Year cost himself?
Had Odom, 32, continued his career track of 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists, he might have been able to earn the full amount of his final-year salary, perhaps not with the Mavs who have all along planned to clear out cap space, but somewhere. As versatile as he can be, $8.2 million might have even seemed like a bargain.
That was before Odom went off the emotional deep end and disingenuously gave the Mavs mostly lifeless, expressionless outings in front of a fan base that turned on him. Cuban finally turned on him when the owner saw zero emotion emanating from Odom at halftime of the Memphis game after the Mavs had battled back from a 26-6 deficit.
One early rumor has the Golden State Warriors interested in adding Odom next season. If Odom couldn't muster the energy to play for the defending champs, what would motivate him to play for a perennial lottery team?
The teams that make most sense for Odom are the ones he's already played for: Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. The Lakers (who can't sign Odom until Dec. 11 per the new collective bargaining agreement) and Heat, both of which already sport luxury-tax-type payrolls for next season, would be limited to offering Odom the mini-midlevel exception of $3 million in the first season. The Clippers (and Warriors, too) could pay him the full midlevel of $5 million or any figure they see fit.
But why would any team risk that kind of valuable payroll space on a player dealing with layers of emotional turmoil and who proved worthless on the court this season?
"I don't know," Cuban said. "It's not that he can't play, he's just got to choose to."
And that would seem to be a risk that even the veteran's minimum might not be worth.