Thursday, January 20, 2011
Updated: January 21, 8:02 AM ET
Sources: Peja Stojakovic to Mavs
By Marc Stein
The Mavericks have received a verbal commitment from the just-released Peja Stojakovic that he intends to sign with Dallas upon clearing waivers, according to sources close to the situation.
The Raptors formally waived Stojakovic on Thursday afternoon after completing a buyout of the 33-year-old's $15 million expiring contract.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks, meanwhile, are closing in on a separate trade with Toronto that would send little-used center Alexis Ajinca to the Raptors to create a roster spot for Stojakovic without having to let newcomer Sasha Pavlovic go. A trade call with the league office to secure final approval, originally scheduled for Thursday night, has been pushed back to Friday at the earliest, with Ajinca sent back to the team's hotel in Chicago after initially traveling to the United Center on the team bus for the Mavericks' game against the Bulls.
"We've sent him back to the hotel because there is a possibility that he will be traded," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confirmed.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks secured permission from Toronto last week to speak with Stojakovic's agent, David Bauman, to see whether the former All-Star sharpshooter would have interest in playing in Dallas after his eventual buyout. The buyout had been anticipated since November, when Raptors president Bryan Colangelo immediately raised the possibility of letting Stojakovic go after acquiring him from New Orleans in a Nov. 20 deal that landed Jarrett Jack and Marcus Banks with New Orleans.
"We were clear from the beginning that our trade with New Orleans was made with the future in mind, so a buyout or trade of Peja's contract was a likely option," Colangelo said Thursday in a statement. "Although he did not fit into our plan of developing our young core talent, I'm sure that Peja will add significantly to any veteran team that signs him."
Ajinca, meanwhile, will be dealt to the Raptors along with cash considerations and a 2013 second-round pick that Toronto had sent to Dallas in last year's draft. In return, Dallas will receive the rights to 2007 second-round pick Georgios Printezis (who plays in Spain and is no longer considered an NBA prospect) and create a salary-cap exception equal to Ajinca's $1.5 million salary.
The Mavericks have been shopping Ajinca almost from the moment he arrived this past summer as a throw-in to make the salary-cap math work in Dallas' deal with Charlotte for center Tyson Chandler. Although the Mavs like Ajinca's shooting touch for a big man, they have three centers ahead of him -- Chandler, Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi -- and promised Ajinca's agent (Dallas-based Bouna Ndiaye) months ago that they would try to find a new home for his client. The Raptors, sources said, have been tracking Ajinca for some time.
Still looking for small forwards after Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury and impressed by Pavlovic's performance Wednesday night as a surprise starter with 11 points in a win over the Lakers on the last day of his 10-day contract, Dallas had to move Ajinca immediately to ensure that it had the roster room to keep Pavlovic while pursuing Stojakovic. Pavlovic was signed Thursday to a second 10-day deal and will have to be signed for the remainder of the season or let go when the 10-day window expires.
ESPN.com reported earlier Thursday that Stojakovic is determined to return to the Western Conference and join a playoff contender once he clears waivers in 48 hours and becomes a free agent, with the Mavericks at the top of his list along with the Los Angeles Lakers and a potential return to New Orleans.
But Dallas was always Stojakovic's preference, according to sources close to the veteran swingman, since the Mavericks have minutes to offer at small forward in the wake of Butler's injury and given their well-chronicled need for weakside shooting to flank franchise forward Dirk Nowitzki. Playing in Dallas also will enable Stojakovic to live within short flying distance of his wife and children, who remained in New Orleans after he was dealt to the Raptors.
It remains to be seen how much Stojakovic will be able to contribute immediately after missing the past 26 games with a sore left knee.
The 33-year-old appeared in only two games with Toronto after the Nov. 20 trade, but Stojakovic did leave an impression on the Mavericks by scoring 17 points in 19 minutes in Dallas on Nov. 15, just days before New Orleans sent Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to Toronto for Jack, Banks and David Andersen.
Stojakovic made three All-Star appearances as a member of the Sacramento Kings and sports a career success rate of 40.1 percent from 3-point range. He forfeited roughly $440,000 from a trade bonus in his contract to make the salary-cap math work in the original deal that sent him to Toronto.
Ajinca, 22, averaged 2.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 7.5 minutes in 10 games for the Mavericks. The 7-foot-2 center was selected No. 20 overall by Charlotte in the first round of the 2008 draft.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.