Monday, February 7, 2011
Stojakovic to make Mavs debut Monday
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- Peja Stojakovic will make his debut Monday night as the Dallas Mavericks seek a ninth consecutive victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Stojakovic, who signed two weeks ago but has been hampered by a left knee issue, is set to play in just his ninth game and for his third team this season. He was traded from New Orleans to Toronto and then released by the Raptors.
"I plan on playing him," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's worked hard, so he's ready to start playing a little bit. 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."
Stojakovic's addition to the lineup now leaves the Mavs still patiently waiting for Rodrigue Beaubois' highly anticipated return from a broken left foot that has sidelined him all season. Beaubois, who remained in Dallas with Stojakovic during the last road trip to increase his workload, will have his activity level "stepped up again," this week, Carlisle said.
Carlisle said Beaubois will begin doing "some live stuff," which could mean participating in team drills and scrimmages during practices for the first time this season. Carlisle did not answer a question as to whether Beaubois would join the team on this week's three-game road trip that begins Wednesday at Sacramento.
"That's another step in the right direction," Carlisle said. "But, I don't have a timetable for you."
Stojakovic has not played in a game since Nov. 26 with the Raptors. In eight games, the 6-foot-10 forward has averaged 8.1 points on 48.8 percent field-goal shooting and 48.4 percent from beyond the arc in 13.9 minutes a game.
In 62 games last season with New Orleans, Stojakovic averaged 12.6 points and 37.5 percent shooting from 3-point range in 31.4 minutes. He figures to become the Mavs' starting small forward if he doesn't immediately do so Monday.
"To get him back on the court and get him in the fold is going to probably take us some time, but the sooner the better, so it's good to get him before the All-Star break comes," point guard Jason Kidd said. "He can shoot the ball, we all know that. 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."
Since Caron Butler suffered a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 1, the spot has been in flux because Carlisle prefers to utilize Shawn Marion off the bench as a tag-team with shooting guard Jason Terry.
Marion, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Sasha Pavlovic, who was waived after completing consecutive 10-day contracts, have filled in as the starting small forward.
In the past two games, Carlisle has given J.J. Barea his first two starts of the season at shooting guard with Stevenson sliding to small forward.
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.