Preps Talk

Lamar Odom, Mavs agree to go separate ways

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Lamar Odom, Mavs agree to go separate ways

From Comcast SportsNetDALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks and Lamar Odom are done with each other.The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year and the defending NBA champions who are trying to make sure they get back to the playoffs made it clear Monday that the partnership is over after an underwhelming 50-game stint."We've got to be able to look down that bench and count on folks to be consistent," general manager Donnie Nelson said. "Unfortunately with him in his state right now, he's just not capable of doing that. I say that with his best interest in mind. He's going through a very, very tough personal time. We certainly understand that. But we're in the thick of it in the West and we've got to win games."Odom will be on the inactive list and not play again for the Mavericks, who were seventh in the Western Conference standings with nine games left in the regular season.Even when wife and reality TV co-star Khloe Kardashian was in the stands near the Mavericks bench, Odom never seemed happy or comfortable in Dallas. His averages of 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 20.5 minutes were career lows, and he was booed by the home crowd as the sluggish performances multiplied.Odom agreed with Nelson that it was a mutual decision for him to step away from the team."I'm sorry that things didn't work out better for both of us," Odom told ESPN.com. "But I wish the Mavs' organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship."Odom was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to Dallas in a deal just before the lockout-shortened season.The Lakers seemed compelled to move the 6-foot-10 forward after trying to send him to New Orleans in a Chris Paul deal that was nixed by the league. For the Mavericks, it was considered a low-risk move to use the trade exception from a deal that sent Tyson Chandler to the New York Knicks.The ending in Dallas came almost as abruptly."These things never come at the best of times, so we felt with the playoff push coming up it was probably in everyone's best interest," Nelson said. "Look, it's been a frustrating situation. Lamar hasn't performed like he wants to perform, is capable of performing. ... We just need to move on."Nelson said the decision wasn't made sooner because there was hope at some point "the light goes on" for Odom. But that never happened, even after being away from the team for four games around the All-Star break for personal reasons.Asked if the Mavs felted cheated by Odom, Nelson insisted they didn't "because the player that he was last year, there's reasons for that not happening this year, some of which none of us will know."During the lockout last summer, Odom's 24-year-old cousin was murdered. Days after that, Odom was involved in a fatal car accident that killed a teen pedestrian after the car he was riding in as a passenger collided with a motorcycle.Odom played only four minutes in a 94-89 loss at Memphis on Saturday night, his last game with Dallas. Asked afterward about the situation, Odom simply shrugged his shoulders. Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who defended Odom all season, simply said "I'm done talking about that," after the Memphis game.Nowitzki and Jason Kidd exited practice Monday through a side door without talking to reporters."It's time to turn the page," said coach Rick Carlisle, who had grown weary of the constant questions about Odom. "I'm not going to comment on it any further."Jason Terry said the team's main focus is trying to get into the playoffs, starting with Tuesday night's game at home against Sacramento. He had little to say about Odom."It's always tough to adjust to a new situation. And for whatever reason it didn't work out for him," Terry said. "We wish him the best. He's a great dude."Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who didn't comment Monday, hoped Odom could fill a void after the team decided against re-signing Chandler, considered a key piece of the championship team because of his leadership skills and strong defensive presence.The decision on Chandler was widely viewed as something that would give the Mavericks flexibility to pursue free agents this summer -- notably Dwight Howard and Deron Williams -- but Cuban maintained the addition of Odom's ability to shoot, pass and defend gave the Mavs a strong chance to defend their crown.Odom still has a year left on his four-year contract. Any team that has the 13-year veteran on its roster on June 29 must give him a 2.4 million buyout or be responsible for the full 8.2 million he would be due in 2012-13.Without Odom, the Mavericks lose one of their primary backups for Nowitzki."We'll adjust. We've got other guys," Carlisle said. "I really feel we have other guys that are ready to step up, so that's what we'll do."Notes: The Mavericks recalled guard-forward Kelenna Azubuike from the NBA Development League. He hasn't played in the NBA since injuring a knee two seasons ago. Nelson said Dallas realistically is looking toward next year with Azubuike. ... Kidd could play Tuesday after missing four games with a strained right groin.

Seventh heaven? Phillips elects to play 7A football

Seventh heaven? Phillips elects to play 7A football

Chicago's Phillips Academy (4-0), who is currently state-ranked in Class 6A, will play this season and next in Class 7A according to the IHSA and its recently published IHSA State Playoff Weekly Outlook. The rundown was updated and released earlier Monday on the IHSA website

The Wildcats are the only football team in the state that has petitioned "up" to play in a higher class.

"The IHSA reached out to us a few weeks ago," Phillips head coach Troy McAllister said. "They planned to void our last year of petitioning up to play in 6A because of the district system that is coming. So we were given the option of staying and playing at our current enrollment level or reapplying to move up again for another two years. We feel that playing in 7A is where we want to be  as a program. We want to play in 7A for several reasons including playing in the 1-32 true seeding system and 7A also features several state powerhouse programs. We believe that's where we want to be as a football program. We just felt as a staff that the time to make this move is now."

Phillips, listed with an enrollment of 575 students on the IHSA website, is the only Chicago Public League team in the history of the IHSA state football playoff system schools to win a state football title. The Wildcats won a Class 4A title in 2015 and a 5A state title in 2017. They volunteered to play "up" in enrollment last season to Class 6A and lost to Cary-Grove in the 6A state quarterfinal round. 

A move up starting this season for the Wildcats from 6A to 7A would now put Phillips in the same class as defending 7A state champion Nazareth Academy along with state-ranked Mount Carmel, Batavia. Glenbard West and Brother Rice.
 

Bears still waiting on kickoff season to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

Bears still waiting on kickoff season to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

There were 312 kickoffs in the NFL this season heading into this weekend. Of those, 221 (70 percent) went for touchbacks. 

After Sunday's games, three teams — including the Bears — have yet to have a kickoff return. Half the league hasn't had a return go more than 25 yards. 

This is the NFL in 2019, with the league’s efforts to reduce the number of kick returns — for safety reasons — proving effective. It’s also meant the Bears haven’t been able to fully utilize Cordarrelle Patterson’s talents yet.

The 5,276 return yards Patterson has since entering the league in 2013 are by far the most in the NFL in that span (he’s about 1,500 yards ahead of Andre Roberts, who has the second-highest total). Patterson is the only player with more than two kick return touchdowns since 2013; he has six. Among players with at least 50 kick returns, Patterson’s average of 29.98 yards per return ranks No. 1, and he’s one of just 14 players to average more than 25 yards per return.

So Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is itching to unleash Patterson on a return — as long as the opportunity presents itself.

“I want to bring the ball out, I really do,” Tabor said. “And there's going to come a time and point that we want to do that. You want to be able to put pressure on that coverage team. But I think you still have to be smart about when you're doing it.”

Patterson’s last kick return touchdown came last year while with the New England Patriots against the Bears, so this coaching staff has a good idea of how dangerous he can be on kickoffs. So do other teams, though — all four of Brandon McManus’ kickoffs last week went for deep touchbacks in the thin air of Denver, while all three of Mason Crosby’s kickoffs in Week 1 were deemed unreturnable and went for touchbacks.

"These kickers are getting paid a lot of money to try to kick the ball away from me," Patterson said. "And that's what they're doing. It's football. You can't always have everything you want."

The Bears don’t want to see Patterson return a kick so badly that they’d have him take one out from the back of the end zone, though. A drive starting on the 25-yard line from a touchback is more likely to be successful than a drive starting inside the 23-yard line, Tabor said. Still, the Tabor said the team is comfortable with Patterson attempting a return from eight or even close to nine yards deep in the end zone. 

With the Bears’ offense struggling — 13 of their 22 drives have ended with a punt — the team hopes it can get a spark from the return game to at least generate good field position.

“A lot of factors that go into that but if you don't bring it out you have zero chance of getting the ball past the 25,” Tabor said. “I think realistically for offenses, all offenses, 75-yard drives in the NFL just don't happen repeatedly so I think you have to try to get something sparked in the return game.”

But as long as temperatures remain warm — the forecasted temperature is in the upper 70’s for kickoff Monday night in Landover — it’ll be easier for kickers to blast touchbacks out of the end zone. And few, if any, of the league’s coaches and special teams coordinators will want to try to kick to Patterson.

So until weather conditions become a little more favorable for kickoff returns, there not anything Tabor can do to generate them.

“I wish I could,” Tabor said. “(Maybe) send the coach a nice bottle of wine or something.”