Chris Paul trade vetoed, Mavs land Lakers’ Odom

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Chris Paul trade vetoed, Mavs land Lakers’ Odom

EL SEGUNDO, California - The Los Angeles Lakers traded forward Lamar Odom and a second-round draft pick to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday for a first-round pick and an $8.9 million trade exception, upsetting his now former teammates.

The Lakers and Mavericks reached a swift deal after Odom learned Thursday that Los Angeles was attempting to trade him in a mega-deal for New Orleans superstar Chris Paul.

After the NBA blocked that trade, Odom declined to report to the Lakers’ opening day of training camp on Friday. Odom then requested a trade in a meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak, and the Lakers improbably swung a deal with the rival Mavericks, who swept Los Angeles out of the second round of last season’s playoffs.

“Lamar was a fine player for us in his seven years with the Lakers and was a key to helping us win two championships,’’ Kupchak said in a statement. “In addition, he always conducted himself with class and professionalism, and we wish him well in the remainder of his career.’’

Neither team formally acknowledged the deal until Sunday night, but both teams knew all about the surprising transaction when they reported for training camp practices that morning.

“To be honest with you, I don’t like it,’’ Kobe Bryant said. “It’s tough to lose Lamar Odom. Pau [Gasol] is still here, and we’re all thankful for that. It’s hard when you’ve been through so many battles with players to just see them go somewhere else. It’s tough.’’

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle and star Dirk Nowitzki spoke eagerly about adding Odom to the defending NBA champions’ roster without losing a player in return. Odom will aid the Mavs’ recovery from Tyson Chandler’s departure to New York, and Carlisle said Odom’s partnership with Nowitzki and Shawn Marion would form the NBA’s best front court.

The Lakers used to have what was considered the NBA’s best front court - until they broke it up for reasons that are unclear to their players. Odom, a veteran team leader and a popular Hollywood celebrity, averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3 assists while playing in all 82 games last season with his smooth, well-rounded game.

Bryant and Derek Fisher led a chorus of confused anger from the Lakers, who have no idea what their front office is planning just two weeks before the season opener. Los Angeles is thought to be working on a deal for Orlando center Dwight Howard, but the trade exception obtained from Dallas could be only a minor part of any potential deal.

“As a basketball player, it confuses you as to what your focus should be,’’ Fisher said. “I’m very disappointed and frustrated for [Odom and Gasol]. If I had my choice, Lamar would be a Laker for life.’’

Bryant said he hated seeing Odom leave Los Angeles: “Especially to them. We were supposed to come back and get them back. It’s tough. ... Do I think we got too little? Who did we get? I don’t think Mark Cuban is protesting this trade.’’

Although Bryant expressed his faith in Kupchak, he would prefer to have Odom in camp as the Lakers regroup from last season’s failed attempt at a threepeat. Odom starred in a reality show last season with his wife, Khloe Kardashian, clearly enjoying his celebrity at the main intersection of sports and entertainment.

“You’re talking about the sixth man of the year last year,’’ Bryant said of Odom. “He played lights-out. I don’t understand the criticism of reality shows and this. I don’t get that. He had his best season last year, clearly wasn’t a distraction, played his [rear] off. I don’t get where that comes from.’’


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