The Dallas Mavericks have until next Friday (June 29) to rid their roster of Lamar Odom by either waiving him or trading him. However, another option is in play that would extend that deadline by a couple weeks, a move that could be mutually beneficial to team and player.
Here's the deal with Odom: Any team that has him on its roster June 29 is responsible for the full $8.2 million remaining on the final year of his contract. However, Odom can be bought out for $2.4 million if he's waived before then. If the deadline remains next Friday, the Mavs' options are limited. They can waive him, making Odom a free agent, but they want to avoid that because they'd be stuck with his $2.4 million on the 2012-13 payroll and that eats into valuable cap space this summer. (Even if Odom had a decent season, the Mavs would need to clear him out -- along with amnestying either Brendan Haywood or Shawn Marion -- to clear cap room to sign Deron Williams). Dallas can also trade Odom, but would be limited to teams with such low payrolls that they could absorb the $2.4 million cap hit after they waive him. Incentives for such teams, which include the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings, would be taking back enough cash to cover the buyout plus a healthy tip for doing the Mavs a favor, as well as perhaps a draft pick. This option sends Odom on his way and spares the Mavs the cap hit. However, it could also mean the Mavs must take back a player and, again, that would only cut into the team's cap space and they're not eager to do that.
So why push back the deadline?: By pushing back the deadline, Dallas will know if Williams is on board or not. Either way, the Mavs will have a much clearer strategy plotted to fill out their roster and they'll have greater flexibility to create trade scenarios involving Odom that could be more beneficial beyond simply dumping him, for instance using his $8.2 million salary as part of a package in a sign-and-trade for a free agent. As for Odom, if he's waived or traded and waived in the next six days, he will become a free agent and he'll no doubt take a substantial pay cut with whichever team signs him. If the deadline is extended, he can hope that a team might be inclined to trade for him and keep him at his full salary believing that, with time off and no longer bogged down by his postponed reality TV show with his Kardashian wife, he will be of clear mind and ready to prove that last season was an unfortunate blip in his career. Plus, a versatile, veteran forward in the final year of his contract can be a valuable asset. How realistic is it for a team to take on Odom, who just might end up on Team USA for the Summer Games next month, and his full salary? Crazier decisions have been made.
The wrench: The key issue Odom must weigh in extending the deadline is putting himself in a precarious situation. Consider that while free agency opens July 1 with teams being able to speak with players and agents, contracts can be signed starting July 11. Between those dates, deals can be agreed upon. If the deadline is pushed back too far, Odom -- if he becomes a free agent -- might find that many teams have already drained their resources.
The Mavs would certainly prefer to get Odom's approval to push back the deadline. The likelihood would seem better than 50/50 considering Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, happens to also represent Williams and Jason Kidd, and Schwartz has a strong relationship with the Mavs' front office. Plus, after the Odom fiasco that ended with Mark Cuban exiling him from the team, Schwartz might feel an obligation to help the club -- especially if Williams isn't planning to sign with the Mavs.