Countdown: No. 15 Lamar Odom

First in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.

The offseason certainly arrived much sooner than anyone could have predicted, just like Lamar Odom's premature exit from the Dallas Mavericks.

The 6-foot-10 forward kicks off our offseason blog series that ranks the 2011-12 Mavericks roster in order of importance for the front office to bring back. Four of last season's six free agents found new homes with the exception of Peja Stojakovic, who called it a career after winning his first championship, and Brian Cardinal, who re-signed but made virtually no impact on the season.

Eleven months ago, the title team proved difficult to rank in importance and I started the Countdown with DeShawn Stevenson as the least important. It drew quite a few raised eyebrows from those wondering how I could possibly consider the defensive bulldog and surprisingly valuable 3-point shooter the least important member of the title team to bring back.

In retrospect, the choice probably violated the spirit of this series. I chose Stevenson not because I didn't think he was an asset and worthy of returning for a chance to repeat, but because the Mavs traded for shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, a move that, to me, signaled that Stevenson wouldn't be back. Who would have figured that neither Stevenson nor Fernandez would start the season with the Mavs?

This time around the lead-off man in these rankings is a no-brainer. Odom's career-worst season has to go down as the most disappointing season in the league and one of the more frustrating ones for a franchise in recent memory.

With that, on with the series:


Pos: SF/PF

Ht/Wt: 6-10, 230

Experience: 13 years

Age: 32 (Nov. 6, 1979)

2011-12 stats: 6.6 ppg (35.2 FG%), 4.2 rpg

Contract status: Signed through 2012-2013

2011-12 salary: $8.9 million

2012-13 salary: $8.2 million ($2.4 million guaranteed)

His story: There's a certain reality TV show on a certain entertainment channel starring a certain Kardashian sister and her basketball-playing husband that can provide the background of what went wrong in Odom's four short months with the Mavs. What didn't go wrong? Dallas thought it was getting a versatile forward who would help ease the pain of losing Tyson Chandler by supplying his unique skills that had helped the Lakers win back-to-back titles. Owner Mark Cuban says he'd make the trade all over again that brought the emotionally bogged-down Odom to Dallas for a draft pick and a trade exception. And hey, when the stunning trade went down Dec. 11, most thought the Mavs had just pulled off a coup and wondered why in the world the Lakers would seemingly just hand over last season's Sixth Man of the Year to the team that swept them out of the playoffs. Now we know.

His outlook: Odom is actually under consideration for a spot on Team USA for the London Games because of the rash of injuries that have taken out star players like Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. Cuban actually said he'd love to see it, but only because he has such disdain for Olympic basketball, so he figures the two were meant to be together. Where Odom lands next season will be a far more intriguing story to follow. For starters, Dallas will try everything it can to dump him off on a team with loads of salary cap space such as Toronto or Sacramento and throw in $3 million to offset the $2.4 million guaranteed on Odom's deal next season. If the Mavs can't dump him in a trade, they'll waive him and be responsible for the $2.4 million, which will eat into their cap space this summer. Such a result will not please Cuban. No matter what, Odom will be long gone from this organization. A return to the Lakers is not likely since they can't add him to the roster for a full year after the date he was traded, Dec. 11. Could he land with the Miami Heat, one of his former teams that obviously will be a contender for years to come? Well, if he wants to sign for a fraction of his actual 2012-13 salary, then it's possible. Of course, no team might risk much more than a couple million anyway. How about the team with which he started his career, the Los Angeles Clippers? Possible. Caron Butler is signed for two more years at small forward, but Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans are free agents.

The Countdown

No. 15 Lamar Odom

No. 14 Coming Tuesday