TNT analyst and former NBA star Charles Barkley has never been shy about sharing his opinions. While some of them tend to be wild and outlandish, there are times when the "Round Mound of Rebound" is right on in his assessment. The Lamar Odom situation happens to be one of those times.
According to Reid Cherner of USA Today, Barkley spouted off about Odom in a recent radio interview. Odom and the Dallas Mavericks have decided to part ways following a halftime argument between Odom and Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Dallas had acquired Odom in an offseason trade from the Los Angeles Lakers, but Odom never seemed happy and turned in the worst season of his career.
Despite the fact that Odom won't be involved with the team for the remainder of the season, the Mavericks are still going to have to pay him. That obviously isn't going to cripple a guy like Cuban, but Barkley was up in arms about the entire situation based on principle in his radio interview.
I always pull for the players, but the fact that they've got to pay him, I think is a joke, Barkley said. ...To sit at home and make that kind of money really pisses me off, to be honest with you, for the effort that he put out there, Barkley said. He's going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars these next two paychecks. ... That's not fair to the Mavs. It's not fair to the game of basketball. I'm just disappointed in Lamar.
Say what you will about Barkley, but he is 100 percent correct when it comes to this issue. After averaging double digits in points per game for 12 straight seasons to start his career, Odom scored just 6.6 per contest this year to go along with 4.2 rebounds per game. While it can be spun that his game is declining, it's obvious that Odom has never been keen on Dallas.
Last season he was an elite player, as he averaged 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game en route to the Sixth Man of the Year Award with the Lakers. He was still an incredibly useful player, and if he would have been committed to the Mavs, then he could have possibly been an important piece to a championship puzzle.
Rather than moving on and accepting that he wasn't with the Lakers any longer, Odom decided to sulk, and his game was severely hindered by it. Although there isn't any tangible way of knowing it for sure, it's clear that Odom didn't compete to the best of his abilities this season and because of that he doesn't deserve full compensation.
Odom's salary is a Players Association issue and things would get messy if the Mavs denied him the rest of his contract, but if you put all of that aside, he simply doesn't deserve to be paid. The honorable thing for Odom to do would have been to admit his transgressions this season and agree to part ways with his contract being terminated in the process.
Not many players have that type of integrity these days, so it isn't particularly surprising that Odom is accepting the rest of his contract, but he could have at least salvaged his character a bit had he gone in the other direction. Instead, he just looks like a cry baby who whined and whined until he finally got his way.
One thing that Barkley always did during his NBA career was give it his all. Because of that, he has every right to be vocal on this subject. Odom is being rewarded for his lack of effort, and Barkley is simply calling a spade a spade.