It's a bummer to be drummed out in the opening round of the playoffs. But for players still stinging from a first-round exit, the promise of at least getting some extra cash because your team made the postseason, and is thus eligible to grab a share of the revenue placed into the league's playoff pool, can put some salve on the wound.
For members of the Dallas Mavericks, this year's first postseason casualty, the time to apply that salve is now. For Lamar Odom, the long-lost (and, arguably, never there) member of the Mavs who parted ways with the team a month ago, that time is not now, and not ever, because his teammates voted Sunday not to cut Odom into Dallas' share of the playoff money.
Odom was dreadful for Dallas this season, posting career lows in points, minutes, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game, as well as in field-goal, free-throw and 3-point shooting percentage, before coming to terms with the team in early April on an agreement that enabled him to get out of Dodge and out of Dallas' hair while still being paid and with the team retaining control of his rights. He recently told Twitter followers that his struggles were due in large part to difficulty coping with the offseason death of his 24-year-old cousin, and he made noise recently about getting back on the comeback trail this summer.
While it would certainly be great to see Odom back on the court, focused and engaged again, that doesn't do much good for a Mavericks team that desperately needed the kind of versatile impact player that a healthy, in-shape and committed Odom could have been for them. He wasn't that guy this year; while Dallas' players have largely declined to speak ill of Odom's effort publicly, this sure suggests they noticed.
There is some discrepancy in the reporting regarding exactly how much Odom's losing out on here. Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas says a team source pegs individual playoff shares at $14,000, while Dwain Price at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram puts the total pot at $281,937, of which a 1/15th share would come out to just under $18,800. That, as you all know, is the difference between a diamond-covered prom dress and an overnight stay at Ice Station Borneo with a helicopter day trip to the North Pole, which is some difference, indeed. By Price's math, a 14-way slicing of the playoff pie will give the non-Odom Mavs on the roster $20,138.32 each, which presumably means backyard rhino sculptures for everybody.
Whatever the final sum, the gesture is clearly more symbolic than legitimately punitive — I mean, Dallas paid Odom $8.9 million this year to be awful for 50 games and then go away. It's not like withholding somewhere around one-fifth of 1 percent of that 2011-12 salary is going to put a real crimp in Lamar's checking account.
No, the real point here is for the members of the Mavericks — still smarting from a four-game sweep in which they were outplayed, outgunned and outclassed by the Oklahoma City Thunder — to make it crystal clear that they don't view Odom as a member of their tribe. You did nothing to help us make the postseason, the Mavs seem to be arguing — how quickly they forget the 10 times in 50 games Odom scored in double figures, seven of which Dallas actually won! — so you don't get to share in what we receive for getting there.
Kurt Helin put it well at Pro Basketball Talk:
It's about effort — if guy 14 on the bench doesn't have the talent to contribute much but he shows up to every practice and puts in the effort, if he is there when called on, he has been part of the team. Was Odom really ever part of the Mavs?
According to the other Mavericks, apparently not.
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