Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Why flexibility sent Sasha Pavlovic packing

By Jeff Caplan

Sasha Pavlovic did about all he could to stick with the Dallas Mavericks, but owner Mark Cuban said the eventual debuts of Peja Stojakovic and Roddy Beaubois would ultimately force Pavlovic to the end of the bench.

At that point, Cuban said, the flexibility of having an open roster spot to potentially make further alterations outweighed carrying -- and paying -- a player likely destined for the inactive list on a nightly basis.

"With Roddy and Peja back, whenever that happens, we’re going to have to already put someone else on the inactive list, and so there’s no point in just having somebody not to play," Cuban said. "And so, the flexibility is there for us. If somebody gets hurt we have flexibility to sign somebody and fill that role. And, if there’s a trade opportunity, or buyout opportunity, then there’s a chance, just like we did with Peja."

Pavlovic completed his second 10-day contract after Saturday's game. At that point the Mavs either had to sign him for the remainder of the season, meaning pay him, or waive him. They chose to say good-bye to a player that started the final six of the 10 games he played and helped to return a measure of stability to the rotation. The Mavs, who won their fifth in a row Monday, were 5-1 with Pavlovic in the starting lineup.

"You can sign him for the rest of the year and then release him, but that’s expensive," Cuban said. "So, if we end up needing him, and hopefully he hasn’t been picked up, we sign him then.

"On the flip side," Cuban said, "it would have been, ‘Aren’t you upset you kept [Pavlovic] when such-and-such became available?’"

Dallas, which now has 14 players under contract on the 15-man roster, can sign Pavlovic to a full contract at any time if they so choose. But, the Mavs are also busy assessing what other teams might do in terms of making players of interest available via trade or buyout. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 24.

Cuban said the Mavs have not been granted permission to speak to any players currently under contract -- which suggests they have asked about players at the top of their wish list.

"We’ll be ready if the opportunity presents itself, like we always are," Cuban said. "We still have those [trade] exceptions and so it’s not just about signing. If somebody decides they want to break up the team and there’s somebody that fits, then there’s a unique opportunity there as well."