- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s a matter of whether Stevenson is willing to come back to Dallas for the veteran’s minimum, which is less than a third of the $4.1 million salary he earned as a valued role player on the Mavs’ championship team.
Agent Mark Bartelstein said Stevenson, a defensive stopper who averaged 5.3 points per game and shot 38.8 percent from 3-point range last season, has multiple offers. Bartelstein indicated that Stevenson would probably make a decision within the next day.
The 6-foot-5 Stevenson is tremendously popular in the Mavs’ locker room and immensely respected by coach Rick Carlisle, who appreciated Stevenson’s toughness and professionalism while bouncing back and forth from the end of the bench to the starting lineup last season.
Stevenson started 54 games during the regular season after veteran leaders Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry suggested a lineup switch early in the year to allow Terry to return to the sixth man role. Once Rodrigue Beaubois returned from a broken foot, Stevenson fell out of the rotation until the regular-season finale, when the leadership trio persuaded Carlisle to start the defensive-minded Stevenson again.
Stevenson started every playoff game until Game 4 of the NBA Finals, when he was replaced in the lineup by J.J. Barea, a move prompted in part by Carlisle’s wish to have either Stevenson or Shawn Marion defending LeBron James at all time. Stevenson responded with a playoff-high 11 points off the bench while playing his typical tenacious defense in the series-shifting win that night.
It isn’t likely that Stevenson would get many minutes for the Mavs after the additions of Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. However, his defensive ability would make him a valuable asset during the playoffs. He’s earned the Mavs' trust by proving he’ll stay ready regardless of the circumstances.
There is room on the Mavs’ roster for the return of rugged swingman DeShawn Stevenson after Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer were shipped to Denver.