Dallas Mavericks: Sasha Pavlovic

Sign-and-trade for Jason Terry not likely

July, 14, 2012
7/14/12
1:49
PM CT
The Boston Celtics introduced their newest signings Saturday and that included presenting Jason Terry, even though he has yet to put ink to paper to make his move from the Dallas Mavericks official.

That's coming, according to ESPNBoston.com, which reported that Terry and Jeff Green have intentionally not signed their deals in order to leave the team some room to maneuver. Those deals are expected to be finalized next week, and in Terry's case, a sign-and-trade with the Mavs is not expected.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the Mavs deem their remaining cap space as too valuable to make additional moves. The source said the only way a sign-and-trade could occur is if Boston finds a third team to take on the salaries they prefer to move out.

Sources with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Mavs and Celtics did discuss sign-and-trade scenarios to facilitate Terry's move to Boston early in free agency. But Dallas has since made other plans with its cap space, such as Friday's amnesty claim on Elton Brand, and are thus resistant to taking back Keyon Dooling or Sasha Pavlovic in a sign-and-trade, which would be necessary to make such a deal work.

Terry told reporters at Saturday's press conference that he's ready to fulfill any role the team asks of him, which could include a starting role if Avery Bradley is not ready for the season and the Celtics don't add another frontline guard.

"Well, if they need me to wash the uniforms or sweep the floor, whatever role (coach) Doc (Rivers) wants me to play I'm here to do it at 100 percent and give my all," Terry said. "That's what I've done my whole career, and pretty much whatever it takes to win. Whatever puts us in the best position to win these games and win a championship is what I'll be doing."

Countdown: Ranking the Mavs - No. 15

July, 15, 2011
7/15/11
8:00
AM CT
Welcome back to the Dallas Mavericks roster countdown.

With the NBA lockout paralyzing all league business at a time when teams would normally be signing and re-signing free agents and making trades to set their 2011-12 rosters, I offer you my ranking and analysis of the world champion's roster, as is. Whenever the lockout ends and teams get back to daily business, the Mavs' roster will look a bit different. The core is likely to remain intact. Others will have to go, and if Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are offered the right deal for either a player at a position of need or to take a big contract off their hands (i.e. Brendan Haywood), a trade is always possible.

So as the heat melts North Texas and the lockout freezes the NBA, let's continue as I rank the 16 players -- one each day -- currently on the Mavs' 15-man roster in order from least critical to most critical for a title defense.

Today's ranking: No. 15

PEJA STOJAKOVIC
Pos: SF
Ht/Wt: 6-10/229
Experience: 13 years
Age: 34
Contract status: Free agnt
2010-11 salary: $402,065 (pro-rated after signing with Mavs on Jan. 25)

[+] EnlargePeja Stojakovic
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezPeja Stojakovic wouldn't seem likely to return, but the door opens a little if Caron Butler leaves.
His story: Stojakovic was a no-risk, potentially high-yield signing as the Mavs tried to maneuver beyond Caron Butler's knee injury that left a gaping hole at small forward and shook up the team's early chemistry. After Dallas let Sasha Pavlovic walk following two 10-day contracts, it signed Stojakovic -- released by Toronto after being traded from New Orleans earlier in the season -- who was still nursing a knee injury that had kept him out for all but eight games. Dallas put him through a two-week training camp before playing him. When he finally got on the floor, Stojakovic instantly became a starter until a stiff neck in mid-March took him out for a handful of games and entrenched Shawn Marion as the starter. Stojakovic averaged just 8.5 points a game, but he did shoot better than 41 percent from 3-point range, the main reason the Mavs signed him in the first place. He had a couple of big games in the playoffs. His five 3s and 21 points in Game 2 against Portland helped the Mavs take a 2-0 lead, and he made 9-of-13 from beyond the arc in Games 3 and 4 against the Lakers. However, in the conference finals and NBA Finals against teams with dynamic wing players, Stojakovic's weaknesses -- namely foot speed and defense -- were magnified. After scoring 21 points in Game 4 against L.A., Stojakovic scored just 25 in five games against Oklahoma City (10-of-32 on 3s) and he played just 11 total minutes in six games against Miami.

His outlook: It could be argued that Stojakovic, who said after the season that he is not contemplating retirement, should have led off this countdown at No. 16 (but, someone please tell me where DeShawn Stevenson fits with Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones guaranteed roster spots -- therefore he became my automatic No. 16). Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson loves pure shooters and accomplished veterans. Stojakovic's skills have clearly deteriorated and injury is always a concern, but he can still shoot the rock. If the Mavs have a roster spot open, don't be terribly surprised if they look to sign Stojakovic for the minimum and use him as a spot, 3-point specialist. Small forward is clearly unsettled at the moment with Butler coming off major knee surgery as well as being a free agent. Shawn Marion can start or come off the bench and Dallas would obviously love for springy Corey Brewer to become a rotation player. Odds are Stojakovic won't be back, but if Butler does not re-sign it could crack open the door for a return.

Thursday: No. 16 DeShawn Stevenson
Today: No. 15 Peja Stojakovic
Monday: No. 14

Should Shawn Marion start no matter what?

March, 15, 2011
3/15/11
7:55
AM CT
DALLAS -- Before Shawn Marion decided to play Thursday night despite bruised ribs, he ranked his pain level at 9.5 on a scale to 10. He then went out and tallied 22 points and eight rebounds in a rout of the New York Knicks, and he followed it up Saturday with 25 points and 12 rebounds in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

As the Dallas Mavericks prepare for a tough road test at the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, Marion's ribs are still smarting, but he's dealing.

"The thing about this injury that is frustrating is sometimes, making certain moves or something, I feel it more than others," Marion said. "But it’s tolerable right now and that’s all that matters."

Marion
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireIn 15 games as a starter, Shawn Marion is averaging 14.7 points on 57.2 percent shooting in 30.0 minutes. In 50 games as a reserve, he's averaged 11.1 points on 48.3 percent shooting and 6.9 rebounds in 27.1 minutes.
Had Marion decided that his ribs ached too much or were too tender to risk an errant elbow, the Mavs would be a in a major personnel jam. Peja Stojakovich will miss his fourth and fifth consecutive games on this back-to-back trip that ends at Golden State on Wednesday night. The only other small forward on the team is newly acquired Corey Brewer, who has averaged nine minutes over his first five games.

"At times it [Marion's value] is hard to measure because he’s got such an unusual way of playing," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "But he is so good and so effective and so important for us, and there’s been no greater evidence of it than the last two games."

Carlisle even play-called specifically for Marion against the Lakers, giving the 6-foot-7 forward rare isolation situations, mostly posting up against Kobe Bryant or Ron Artest and spinning to the rim.

So, what to do with Marion now? For the majority of the season Carlisle has opted to keep Marion and Jason Terry as more or less co-sixth men, typically substituting the two together. Sasha Pavlovic was signed off the street to two 10-day contracts and inserted into the starting lineup after four games to preserve the bench rotation.

As soon as Stojakovic was ready to play two weeks after being signed, he stepped into the starting lineup. When Caron Butler was healthy, Marion as a reserve made perfect sense as a veteran changeup at the position. Even during Pavlovic's stint, an argument could be made to keep Marion's energy coming off the bench even if it meant a weaker starting unit.

But now that Stojakovic is out and there remains no timetable for a return, should Marion simply be handed the starting job from here on out with 16 regular-season games left?

In 15 games as a starter, Marion is averaging 14.7 points on 57.2 percent shooting in 30.0 minutes. In 50 games as a reserve, he's averaged 11.1 points on 48.3 percent shooting and 6.9 rebounds in 27.1 minutes.

"Everything’s an option going forward," Carlisle said. "In the last 15, 16 games we’ll continue to evaluate everything. The key thing in my mind is that we keep working to get better every day, but we’re not going to get into a thing where we’re running guys’ minutes way up, whether they’re starting or coming off the bench. We’ve got a lot of depth. We want to use it and we want to continue to get better."

If Stojakovic is available for Friday's home game against the San Antonio Spurs or Sunday against the Warriors, perhaps it still makes sense to move Marion back to the bench. Stojakovic, though, has yet to show that he can be a consistent threat from 3-point range, where his real value lies, and he was mired in an awful slump. He was shooting 30.8 percent from beyond the arc before the stiff neck interrupted his Mavs tenure after just 13 games in what has been an injury rattled season with three teams.

As the playoffs draw nearer, Carlisle will also have to gauge the defensive ability of Marion over Stojakovic. In successive games, Marion helped to limit Carmelo Anthony and Bryant to 11-of-35 shooting combined. Against the Blazers, Marion will draw the improving and always dangerous Brandon Roy.

"Shawn has been playing unbelievable, really taking the challenge defensively, guarding the best player on their team, the 2 [shooting guard], 3 [small forward], no matter what position and he’s been great," Dirk Nowitzki said. "It seems like it fires him up on the offensive end, too. He wants to go back at that player and he’s been posting up floaters his whole career. He’s been looking great."

Nowitzki ended his comment, however, by saying it didn't matter to him who starts at small forward because it won't change his approach.

At this stage of the season, Carlisle must put his best players in the best position for the team to succeed. Right now that means starting Shawn Marion at small forward.

Rick Carlisle's dilemma: Breaking in Roddy

February, 14, 2011
2/14/11
4:23
PM CT
DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks guard Roddy Beaubois might make his long-awaited debut Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.

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"That’s what it’s looking like," center Tyson Chandler said. "The way he was moving [at practice] today and taking full contact and going through the full practice for the first time, he looked great."

Whether Beaubois returns Wednesday, Thursday or after All-Star Weekend, how should coach Rick Carlisle break in the youngster after a five-plus month layoff? Beaubois hasn't played in a game since the Summer League in July and he hasn't competed in an NBA game since April 29 in Game 6 of the first-round loss.

"So far so good," Beaubois said after Monday's practice. "It went well so it’s a good sign. I just need to keep going like this. It is going to be day-by-day. I'll practice [Tuesday] and then we’ll see how it goes and coach will make a decision."

Will Carlisle gradually work Beaubois in off the bench at the position Jason Terry is the sixth man, or immediately start him in place of DeShawn Stevenson? Terry seems to know what he would do.

"I think you put him out there and see what he’s got," Terry said. "It ain’t going to hurt. We only got 20-something games left in the regular season. We need to see now what this kid can do."

The Mavs have 28 games left and are just four games into integrating Peja Stojakovic into the starting lineup. The plan prior to Beaubois breaking his foot in August was presumably to start him at shooting guard and sprinkle him in at point guard. Whether he immediately takes over as a starter will be up to Carlisle, and he won't divulge that information until the league mandates he turn in his official lineup an hour or so before Wednesday's tipoff. Even then, Beaubois, of course, will have to be active.

Carlisle provided few clues into his thinking after Monday's practice, Beaubois' first full-on session that included five-on-five scrimmages and full contact. On one hand, Carlisle said he wants to maintain consistency within the rotation, which might suggest that he's reluctant to mess with the starting lineup again.

However, Carlisle later added this fact about Beaubois: "The thing about him that is exciting for us is the one thing he established last year is that he was an effective player at the 2-position with Jason Kidd," Carslisle said. "That was the one consistent thing that he established last year."

So interpret that any way you like.

But, also keep in mind that Carlisle likes to put players in the role he sees them in for the long haul. To keep Shawn Marionon the bench, Carlisle opted to start Sasha Pavlovic at small forward for the final six games he played with Dallas, and to immediatley start Stojakovic.

Of course, it's easier to plug in a veteran at a shallow position depth-wise, than a second-year guard who played 56 games as a rookie at a deep position.

Stevenson, whom Carlisle called a "god-send" Monday for his solid play after going from the 11th man to emergency starter in the second week of the season, realizes that his minutes will likely be scaled back to make room for Beaubois.

"Obviously, he’s going to get minutes. My minutes are going to come. That’s where you just have to be a professional," Stevenson said. "I’ve proved what I can do and if he gets the minutes, I’ve just got to be ready. In the West, we’ve got taller defenders so I might get in some games, or not. You never know what’s going to happen. You’ve just got to stay ready. It’s a part of the business."

And it certainly will be interesting to see how Carlisle plays his backcourt cards. Jason Kidd and Terry are going to get their 30 minutes. J.J. Barea has played brilliantly over the past four weeks or so and has averaged 25 minutes a game in February. Stevenson has certainly made a case, through good defense and 40 percent 3-point shooting to remain in the rotation.

Carlisle said he doesn't see the addition of Beaubois having much, if any, effect on minutes currently doled out to Terry and Barea. Terry said adding Beaubois this late into the season, even at a crowded position, is a good problem for Carlisle and the team to have.

"We’re all about team here," Terry said. "As long as it translates into wins for us, we don’t have a problem with it. Now, if he comes in and it’s affecting everybody, there might be a little rift here and there, but nothing we can’t work out. It’s a good problem to have."

Peja, Mavs like what they see in debut

February, 8, 2011
2/08/11
12:01
AM CT


DALLAS -- It took 17 seconds for Peja Stojakovic to see what life might be like playing for the Dallas Mavericks. Stojakovic got the pass and fired. He missed the open 15-footer on the Mavs' first possession, and his next two shots, both open 3-pointers, rattled out.

But Stojakovic, who took over as the starting small forward, said it was just a taste of what he expects to come.

"It’s a lot of ball movement," Stojakovic said, "and playing with guys like Jason [Kidd], Dirk [Nowitzki] and Jet [Jason Terry], we draw a lot of attention defensively and there’s definitely going to be a lot of good looks out there."

[+] EnlargePeja Stojakovic
AP Photo/LM OteroPeja Stojakovic's 20 minutes in his Mavs debut were the most he's played in a game since last March.
Stojakovic played a hearty 20 minutes through three quarters and scored eight points in his first game since being signed by the Mavs 15 days ago. He missed all but eight games this season with a left knee issue while playing for New Orleans and Toronto. Since his arrivial in Dallas, he has not participated in a full team practice in order to continue to rehab his knee and concentrate on conditioning.

During the last road trip, Stojakovic stayed and put in double time to be ready for this one.

"I was very pleased with his conditioning," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’s been working the last 10 days extremely hard. Really, it’s been a training camp of sorts, double sessions, a lot of work on conditioning, defensive stuff, offensive stuff. NBA games are hard to simulate, but they did a good job of simulating it because he didn’t look particularly winded."

After the Mavs held on Monday, 99-96 for their ninth consecutive victory and Cleveland's record-setting 25th consecutive defeat, Stojakovic said his knee felt fine. It was his first game since Nov. 26 and the most minute's he's logged since March 8, 2010.

"It felt OK. This is what, my first contact in two months?" Stojakovic said. "My body responded well. now, as the days, we have more practices and games I’m going to get that feel for the game back and I think things are going to be much easier for me on the court."

The Mavs seemed to make it a point to get Stojakovic the ball early. He took four of his nine shots during the seven minutes he played in the first quarter. If his first three misses from the floor didn't reveal some obvious rust, his first missed free throw proved it. Stojakovic got his first bucket on his fourth shot attempt, a backdoor layup from Kidd.

He made his first 3-pointer on his fifth attempt to open the third quarter. After going 2-of-4 from the field in the third quarter and 1-of-3 from the arc in playing seven consecutive minutes in the third, Stojakovic's night was over.

He finished 3-of-9 overall and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also had five rebounds, including one on the offensive end. Just as a comparison, Sasha Pavlovic, who played admirably in starting six of 10 games during two 10-day contracts, never had more than three rebounds in a game and twice scored more than eight points (11, twice).

"He’s going to be all right," Dirk Nowitzki said of Stojakovic. "He’s one of the best shooters in the world. It’s going to take him some time to get his rhythm back, but I’m not really worried about him. He’s going to have wide-open looks on the weakside as much as people have to pay attention to our strongside with myself, Jet, Kidd making plays. He’s going to have wide-open looks in the corner and he’s going to make his fair share of them."

That's what the Mavs are banking on.

Will Peja Stojakovic start tonight?

February, 7, 2011
2/07/11
1:23
PM CT
DALLAS -- If the plan is to eventually use the 6-foot-10 Peja Stojakovic as the starting small forward, will Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle go ahead and plug him in immediately?

Stojakovic will make his Mavs debut tonight against the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers. Stojakovic hasn't played since Nov. 26 and he's played in just eight games this season, averaging slightly more than 13 minutes in those games.

"He's worked hard, so he's ready to start playing a little bit," Carlisle said after Monday's morning shootaround. "He's as ready as he's going to be short of playing in a game. So tonight's the night we've got to get him out there a little bit."

Carlisle has often decided on a starting five by keeping the guys he wants coming 0ff the bench coming off the bench. That's why Shawn Marion hasn't just stepped in to replace Caron Butler, which woud have been a logical move. Carlisle prefers to utilize him in a reserve role paired with Jason Terry.

Marion, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Sasha Pavlovic, no longer on the team after being waived following consecutive 10-day contracts, have filled in as the starting small forward.

In the last two games, Carlisle has been successful with a starting lineup that included J.J. Barea, who is playing the best basketball of the season, if not his career, at shooting guard and Stevenson at small forward.

But, even if Stojakovic isn't ready to log heavy minutes such as the 31 he averaged last season in 62 games with the New Orleans Hornets, Carlisle might as well set his starting five with 32 games remaining in the regular season.

Of course, there remains the issue of Roddy Beaubois' impending return and how he's introduced into the rotation.

But, that's not here yet. As for Stojakovic, if he's going to be this team's starting forward moving forward -- and that's not factoring in a potential trade -- then Carlisle might as well start him tonight against the Cavs.

"He can shoot the ball, we all know that," Jason Kidd said. "He's a competitor and a veteran guy, so he knows how to play. For us, we've got to use his strengths, get him in the fold and make him comfortable."

Pro's pro, Brian Cardinal ready for duty

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
10:45
AM CT
Brian Cardinal ended January the way he began it, in the starting lineup and logging a 30-plus minute game, his only two of the season. On New Year's Day, Cardinal replaced the injured Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. On Monday night, Cardinal made his third start of the season, becoming the latest alternative to fill Caron Butler's vacancy at small forward.

Sasha Pavlovic had started the last six games, but the Dallas Mavericks bid farewell to him after his second 10-day contract expired after Saturday's game. Rather than break up his favored off-the-bench pairing of Shawn Marion and Jason Terry and move Marion back into the starting lineup, coach Rick Carlisle turned to Cardinal, the pro's pro.

"It’s a privilege to be here with the Mavs. It’s awesome to be here," said Cardinal, whose non-guaranteed contract was fully guaranteed last month. "Anything I can do to help us win, whether that’s diving on the floor for a loose ball or taking a charge, or trying to get a stop on defense, whatever I can do to help us win, I’m more than happy to do it."

Cardinal, 33, skipped over his specialty -- draining 3-pointers.

The 6-foot-8 forward hit his first two 3-point attempts in the opening five minutes of the game and then made another in the second quarter to move the Mavs within 45-40 after a sluggish start saw them fall behind the road winless Washington Wizards by 12 points.

Cardinal finished with nine points -- although he was just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc after making the quick two -- four rebounds, an assist and a block in 31 minutes. His fundamental dependability on defense and ability to can the 3-pointer might have earned him another start when the Mavs begin a three-game road trip at the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Carlisle said he could rotate starters at the small forward position at least until Peja Stojakovic make his Dallas debuts. Stojakovic will not make the three-game East Coast trip so his earliest action would be Monday's home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

No problem, Cardinal said.

"You just have to stay ready," Cardinal said. "It can be difficult when you’re not playing, but we’ve got a great group of guys here, a veteran group of guys and they keep everybody focused, everybody on their toes. It’s about staying professional, getting in early, staying late, getting your work in, and staying in shape and staying ready."

Why flexibility sent Sasha Pavlovic packing

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
9:00
AM CT
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."

How will post-Sasha, pre-Peja Mavs look?

January, 30, 2011
1/30/11
4:42
PM CT
DALLAS -- The Mavericks' season is breaking down into distinct segments of varying lengths and results. There was the opening blazing-hot segment, a 24-5 start to the season. Then came the the injury segment when Dirk Nowitzki and then Caron Butler went down and the team went rudderless. Figure that one at 14 games with the Mavs going 4-10.

Then there was the Sasha Pavlovic segment. During the course of two 10-day contracts that came to an end with the 6-foot-7 forward being waived after Saturday's win over Atlanta, his 10th game with the team, the Mavs trended toward a return to normalcy. Pavlovic started the last six games and the Mavs won five, including the final four.

The key was Pavlovic played well enough as a starter at small forward to allow the Mavs to move Shawn Marion back to a reserve role where he and Jason Terry have combined to give Dallas one of the more explosive benches in the league. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle clearly prefers the punch he gets off the bench when he subs in Terry and Marion as a pair.

"When we can have Jet and Marion off the bench, we just feel like that’s a positive for us; just seems to work well," Carlisle said. "DeShawn Stevenson, when he was starting at the 3 [small forward] during a certain period of time, he did fine, but his minutes were going up, up, up and it just helped to have another player [Pavlovic] that could step in there."

But, the Mavs' front office opted not to sign Pavlovic for the remainder of the season, which brings the team to yet another critical segment. Call this one the post-Sasha, pre-Peja segment. Pavlovic became expendable when the Mavs signed 6-10 veteran forward Peja Stojakovic last week. Only Stojakovic continues to try to rid himself of knee irritation that's limited him to just eight games this season.

"Where do we go from here?" Terry asked shortly after learning Pavlovic had been let go. "We don’t know, but I can imagine, Stojakovic, hopefully this means he’s going to be healthy and out there playing."

Not exactly. At least not yet.

Carlisle on Saturday said Stojakovic is not expected to join the team on its upcoming three-game road trip, which means he'll be out for at least the next four games starting Monday night as theMavs seek a 4-0 homestand against the Washington Wizards, who are 0-23 on the road.

That game starts this new segment because Marion will likely step back into a starting role, again throwing a wrench into Carlisle's rotation. Eventually, Stojakovic figures to take the starting spot. His return is close, he and the the team assure, but the actual time frame remains uncertain.

It's not the best timing to lose Pavlovic and have to wait for Stojakovic at a time when a team that couldn't score 90 points during the injury segment is suddenly moving the ball around famously and has averaged 106.3 points in the last three games.

"I think our chemistry now is starting to get back to where it was at the beginning of the season," center Tyson Chandler said after Saturday's win. "At the beginning of the season we were playing on a string. We knew everybody’s sweet spots. You knew exactly what guys were going to do on the floor without even thinking about it. When guys went out, it shook that up. It was difficult to rebound from because now you’ve got different guys stepping in."

And now, another adjustment heading into the post-Sasha, pre-Peja segment?

"Yeah," Chandler said. "Definitely."

Of course, this new segment will eventually transfer into the return-of-Roddy Beaubois segment ...

Peja not expected to join team on road trip

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
11:13
PM CT
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks bid farewell to Sasha Pavlovic after Saturday night's game, opting to waive the small forward after his second 10-day contract expired rather than sign him for the remainder of the season.

That leaves the Mavs in transition mode once again at least for the next four games, if not longer. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Peja Stojakovic, signed to a full contract last Monday, but still nursing a knee issue, is not expected to travel on the team's upcoming three-game road trip through New York (Wednesday), Boston (Friday) and Charlotte (Saturday).

If that's the case, the earliest Stojakovic would return is Feb. 7 at home against Cleveland.

"He will stay here and concentrate on conditioning and the physical aspects of getting ready to play," Carlisle said after the Mavs' 102-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. "At that point we believe he will be much more ready to step on the court. That is subject to change, but that is where I believe things are right now."

Pavlovic played 10 games and started six, allowing the Mavs to return to their comfort zone with Shawn Marion accompanying Jason Terry off the bench. The Mavs won their final four games and five of the six Pavlovic started.

Marion would now seem to have to step back into the starting role.

The Mavs are down to 14 players, including Stojakovic. Carlisle said the club will either sign another player to a 10-day contract or stick with what they've got for now.

While Joe Alexander, a 6-foot-8 forward for the D-League Texas Legends has received some rave reviews, one team source said the Mavs could look to bring back sharpshooter Steve Novak on a 10-day contract. Novak made the team on a non-guaranteed contract out of training camp, but was waived prior to the deadline for all contracts to become guaranteed for the season.

Novak, however, is not a guy the Mavs would likely slide into the starting small forward spot to keep warm until Stojakovic is ready to go. When with the team, he appeared in just seven games.

Peja: 'The knee is responding well...'

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
7:25
PM CT
DALLAS -- Peja Stojakovic seems antsy to finally get back on the court for the first time since Nov. 26. It won't be tonight against the Atlanta Hawks and it likely won't be Monday night to close the homestand.

Even he isn't sure when he'll play, but Stojakovic did say he is getting closer and that head athletic trainer Casey Smith will make the final call. Stojakovic's knee injury isn't exactly an easy one to pinpoint, which is why it's been difficult to set a timetable on his return, even before he signed with the Dallas Mavericks last Monday.

Stojakovic calls it irritation in his left knee that's led to swelling.

"It's getting better everyday," Stojakovic said prior to Saturday's tip. "The knee is responding well to some hard workouts. The knee took longer than expected. It's about getting into shape."

The Mavs could use a sooner than later return from Stojakovic if the team opts to waive Sasha Pavlovic after tonight's game. Pavlovic's second 10-day contract expires after tonight's game and the Mavs must either sign him for the rest of the season or send him on his way. There have been rumblings that the Mavs prefer to open a roster spot for flexibility rather than hold onto Pavlovic because Stojakovic was brought in to do the same job.

Stojakovic would like that, too. He said the workouts Smith puts him through are far more grueling than any game.

Bench lifts offense in Mavs' time of need

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
11:46
AM CT
DALLAS -- It's no coincidence that the Dallas Mavericks' bench has been on fire as the team has recorded consecutive season-highs of 112 and 111 points in their last two games.

Dallas' reserves have scored half of the team's two-game total, including 63 points in Tuesday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers and 49 in Thursday's win over the Houston Rockets. Jason Terry and J.J. Barea have provided 87 of 112 bench points, with Shawn Marion adding 20.

"Our team is structured to have a really good bench," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We need a lot of productivity from them. We need them to provide balance to our starters. We don’t necessarily start our five best players. So, when we sub, we expect to get better, at least offensively."

That the Mavs have recorded such high point totals when Dirk Nowitzki has not been shooting well since returning from a sprained right knee is even more indicitive of how critical bench scoring is to the Mavs' overall success.

The Mavs prefer to bring Terry and Marion off the bench and match them up against the opponents' second team. In a more traditional alignment, Terry would start at shooting guard and Marion would start at small forward. Instead, the Mavs have used DeShawn Stevenson at shooting guard, and recently Sasha Pavlovic (who will be playing in his final game of his second 10-day contract tonight against the Atlanta Hawks) at small forward in the wake of Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury.

Along with point guard Jason Kidd, the Mavs feature a most unusual starting five in which three players (Pavlovic, Stevenson) average 8.0 points or less, which obviously puts the burden on the bench to score points.

How much burden?

The Mavs are 22-7 when their bench outscores their opponent's, and they're just 8-8 when outscored.

According to ESPN Stats & Research, Dallas' bench (36.1 points a game) ranks fifth in the league in scoring behind Philadelphia (39.8), Detroit (39.1), Phoenix (37.3) and Denver (36.7).

Sasha Pavlovic is living for the moment

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
8:10
AM CT
DALLAS -- Sasha Pavlovic truly is taking it one game at a time. That's life when you're on a 10-day contract. And tonight, Pavlovic's second 10-day contract expires after the Dallas Mavericks play the Atlanta Hawks.

Pavlovic will likely start his sixth consecutive game in his 10th appearance with the Mavs. And after the game he will know if he will be sticking around for the remainder of the season or looking for a new team (after two 10-day contracts teams must either sign the player for the remainder of the season or waive him).

"I don’t know if they’ll let me know before the game or after the game," Pavlovic said. "And, I’m not thinking about it, believe me."

Monday's signing of Peja Stojakovic, a fellow Yugoslavian-born forward and 3-point shooter, probably didn't help Pavlovic's cause.

If the news is bad, the Mavs probably won't break it to Pavlovic until after the game to ensure maximum effort and no hurt feelings during the game. Pavlovic has drawn mostly praise from coach Rick Carlisle. He's played decently with two big games among the nine. He scored 11 points in wins over the Lakers and Rockets. His other seven games have been more non-descript.

It certainly didn't help that he broke his nose in his fourth game against Detroit and then two days later against the Lakers, Derek Fisher knocked him in the nose in the opening minute, a player Pavlovic wasn't so sure was unintentional.

At any rate, Pavlovic will suit up tonight, likely not knowing if it's the last time.

"I’m not trying to think about it; I don’t want to think about it," Pavlovic said. "I just feel like I can always do more and I always try to do more. Like the game [Thursday] night, I think I can do better. The game before that I was bad and I think I can do a lot better than that. I just always try to improve myself."

Will Sasha Pavlovic stick for long haul?

January, 28, 2011
1/28/11
10:30
AM CT
DALLAS -- Sasha Pavlovic went from the street to NBA starter. Is it conceivable that he can go from NBA starter back to the street?

Yes, it is.

Is it likely? The Dallas Mavericks front office could be leaning in that direction after signing Peja Stojakovic on Monday. Pavlovic's second 10-day contract expires after Saturday's game. Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban will then have to either sign him for the remainder of the season or waive him. Dallas might be more in favor of opening a roster spot for flexibility to make moves in the coming weeks.

Pavlovic signed his first 10-day contract on Jan. 10 in the wake of Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury. Four games in, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle plugged Pavlovic in as the starting small forward to move Shawn Marion back to his reserve role. Pavlovic, who has started five of the nine games he's played, scored 11 points in the big win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 19 to ensure his second 10-day contract.

The 6-foot-10 Stojakovic is a taller, more versatile and a more accomplished version of the 6-7 Pavlovic. Stojakovic figures to eat up a significant number of the minutes available at small forward along with Marion, making Pavlovic expendable. The one caveat is Stojakovic's lingering knee issue. He's played in just eight games this season and hasn't suited up since Nov. 26.

On Thursday, Carlisle said it would be "a while" before Stojakovic is ready to play. Later, one team source suggested a week to 10 days. If the Mavs part with Pavlovic it would leave them potentially shorthanded for a handful of games, yet that might not be enough to pursuade the club to keep him over opening a spot on the 15-man roster.

Pavlovic gave the Mavs something to ponder with his 11-point performance Thursday in the 111-106 win over the Houston Rockets. He played 22 minutes, knocked down 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and added two assists and a couple of steals.

The consistency, as might be expected coming in on a 10-day contract at mid-season, has not been there. Pavlovic scored 22 points and made 9-of-14 shots combined against the Lakers and Rockets. In the other seven games, he's scored 15 total points on 4-of-16 shooting.

No-brainer in signing shooter Peja Stojakovic

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
5:02
PM CT
CHICAGO -- Adding Peja Stojakovic and subtracting Alexis Ajinca is a no-brainer move for the Dallas Mavericks, a club that doesn't need a fourth, albeit affable, center and desperately needs another proven weak-side shooter to fill the void left by the injured Caron Butler.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein has reported that Stojakovic has given the Mavs a verbal agreement to join them once he clears the 48-hour waiver period. To make room for him on the 15-man roster, Dallas, in a separate trade, is shipping Ajinca, a throw-in last offseason in the Erick Dampier-Tyson Chandler deal, to Toronto.

The only question is how much Stojakovic has got left. At 33, Stojakovic's All-Star days are well behind him and injuries are an ongoing issue. This was not a blockbuster deal but rather a small, but heady move to get a sharpshooter that can dial it in on any given night. He's dealing with a knee problem now that's kept him on the bench for all but two games in Toronto after being traded there from New Orleans in a salary dump.

If Stojakovic can get on the floor and stay there he is one of the great pure shooters in the league and provides the Mavs with an additional spot-up threat on the wing. He's played in just eight games this season -- six with New Orleans two with Toronto -- so it's questionable as to what kind of immediate help he can offer. Still, in his limited time, he's made 48.4 percent of his 3-balls (15-of-31).

The signing certainly can't hurt. After all, this a team that is now starting 10-day contract player Sasha Pavlovic at small forward so Shawn Marion can come off the bench where he's been extremely effective as a scorer and defender.

The 7-foot-1 Ajinca might one day amount to a role player in this league, but he offers next-to-nothing for a veteran team like Dallas with championship aspirations. He'll get some developmental time at rebuilding Toronto, while Stojakovic, knees allowing, can provide spurts of instant offense like he did on Nov. 15 when he hit 4-of-6 from the arc and scored 17 points in 19 minutes -- against the Mavs.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
19.7 4.2 1.2 32.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 10.8
AssistsD. Harris 4.4
StealsD. Harris 1.3
BlocksT. Chandler 1.7