The Los Angeles Clippers have engaged in trade discussions to bring Lamar Odom back to the L.A. team that drafted him, according to sources close to the situation.
Yet the deal, sources said, could hinge on the willingness of a third team to take on the contract of Clippers veteran guard Mo Williams, which would allow the Dallas Mavericks to send Odom to the Clippers with no significant money coming back to the Mavericks.
With a Friday deadline looming for the Dallas Mavericks to buy out the final year of Odom's contract for $2.4 million, Mavs officials have green-lighted Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, to try to find a new home for Odom this week via trade. The Mavericks and Schwartz have also discussed pushing the deadline back into July if an Odom trade can't be struck before Friday.
The Mavericks' interest in an Odom deal, though, is purely to gain financial flexibility, which likely necessitates a third team to take on Williams. If no trade can be struck, either this week or before an adjusted deadline, Dallas is expected to eventually buy Odom out and make him a free agent, with big-market teams such as Miami and New York also planning to pursue him in that scenario.
Although Williams is a former All-Star and still a valuable contributor at 29, Dallas has little need for him given its long-planned pursuits of marquee free agents Deron Williams and Steve Nash and its oft-stated desire to bring back championship-winning point guard Jason Kidd when free agency starts Sunday at 12:01 a.m.
The Mavericks are one of two finalists, along with the Brooklyn Nets, for Dallas-area native Deron Williams and have long planned to pursue the re-signing of Nash -- who left Dallas for Phoenix in the summer of 2004 -- in the event Deron Williams decides to stay with the Nets.
Mo Williams has maintained all season that he plans to exercise his $8.5 million player option for the 2012-13 season despite the fact that the Clippers have Chris Paul and promising youngster Eric Bledsoe at point guard and want to bring back veteran guard Chauncey Billups, even after the 35-year-old suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
Yet it remains to be seen whether Williams will hold to that stance. He has until June 30 to make that decision and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, recently told ESPNLosAngeles.com that he and the Clippers were "kind of exploring everything" to find the best solution.
"Mo's a professional and I think he showed that last season," Bartelstein said. "He had a great year under difficult circumstances. That said, he's a starting point guard. He's an All-Star starting point guard. So we'll look at everything and see what makes sense."
Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that one team to express interest in Williams is the Los Angeles Lakers, who still have a trade exception big enough to absorb Williams' contract that they created when they dealt Odom to Dallas.