Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lamar Odom apologizes to teammates


DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom re-joined the team Saturday night and moments before taking the court he addressed his teammates, apologizing for his absence and telling them he needed their support.

"I have a great group of guys," Odom said. "Before the game I let them know how much I need them. I'm fortunate to have a group of guys like this."

Odom did not take questions in the locker room prior to the game against the Utah Jazz, but told reporters he would answer questions afterward.

"After the game you can ask me anything you want," Odom said.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle opened his pregame interview session with a comment regarding Odom's Saturday morning call-up from the D-League's Texas Legends. The Mavs assigned him to the team on Friday with the expectation that he would play for the Legends tonight to regain his stamina and join the Mavs on Sunday for their trip to Oklahoma City.

"The way the situation happened, a couple things played into the fact that he's going to join us tonight instead of playing in a D-League game," Carlisle said. "No. 1, we're struggling, we could use the extra man power. And No. 2, his workouts have been going well and so it just seemed like it was best for him to join the team at this time. So, he will be suited up and he will play."

The Mavs do need the extra body with the latest injury news that 6-foot-10 center Brandan Wright will miss Saturday's game -- and possibly more -- with a concussion sustained in Friday's game at New Orleans.

Dallas enters Saturday's game on a season-long four-game losing streak. The Mavs have lost five of their last six and are playing their fourth game in five nights as part of a nine-games-in-12-nights stretch.

Asked if he sat down with Odom to discuss his expectations moving forward, Carlisle said: "I've said as much as I'm going to say at this point. It's time for him to be back with his teammates and play. And we need to turn the page and move forward."

Carlisle said that it's his hope that Odom will be a contributing factor soon, saying that Odom was trending in the right direction before he left the team on Feb. 22 before playing his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Odom was expected back the Monday after the All-Star Game, but he didn't return to Dallas until Wednesday while the team was playing at Memphis. Odom, his agent Jeff Schwartz and Mavs owner Mark Cuban met in Dallas to discuss how to ease Odom back into the fold.

Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said it was Odom's idea to play a game in the D-League first.

"He was with us for 34 games before the break and things were trending in the right direction," Carlisle said. "I have no reason to believe that things won't continue to go that way. Now, he's been away from the team for 10 days so we're going to have hopefully a short period here where there's going to be some sort of re-adjustment or whatever, and we'll work with that, that's part of it.

"With the frequency of games that we have here, my assumption and hope is we'll resolve those things pretty quick. There's going to be a lot of games."

Jeff Caplan and Tim MacMahon cover the Dallas Mavericks for