CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jerry Stackhouse sat in front of his locker 90 minutes before Dallas' game with Charlotte on Tuesday sorting through dozens of tickets for family and friends in his return to North Carolina, where he grew up and starred in college.
Once Stackhouse was finished putting the 52 tickets in various envelopes, he stayed in his street clothes, ready for another night on the inactive list as his agent explores a trade or buyout that would end his stint with the Mavericks.
"Teams get to the point where they're starting to focus more on bringing along their young guys," said Stackhouse, who turned 34 this month. "I'm an older guy, but I still feel like I'm not necessarily ready to sit on the bench. I think there is an opportunity out there. With the relationship I've had with the Mavericks over the last five years, I think they would welcome my wishes."
Stackhouse was officially listed with a sore right heel Tuesday. The heel is troublesome, but not the reason his playing time has diminished under first-year coach Rick Carlisle, who has given playing time to Gerald Green and Antoine Wright instead.
It's why Stackhouse, averaging just 5.3 points per game, has asked his agent to begin exploring other opportunities.
"The teams that make sense for me are close and need a veteran, some toughness and a guy that knows how to win big games," Stackhouse said. "Hopefully we can find that, but if not I'll be here in the same role I've been in: continuing to encourage the young guys. That's what the team has been asking me to do. It's just that I feel I could serve a better role somewhere else."
Stackhouse wasn't angry. He's not demanding a trade. He just feels he still has something left, and he doesn't fit in the new Mavericks' offensive scheme centered on point guard Jason Kidd, small forward Josh Howard and power forward Dirk Nowitzki. Stackhouse is shooting 29 percent from the field.
"We are playing more of a freewheeling style, to take advantage of Jason's strengths and Josh's strengths," Stackhouse said. "Then when we get into the halfcourt, the few sets, most of them go to Dirk. I've always been a guy that thrived better with, 'We're running a play for Stack.' I'd rather have five shots that I know where they're coming from, as opposed to 10 that I don't. At this point of my career, 14 years, I am what I am."
The Mavericks, who are off to a poor start, have no immediate plans to move Stackhouse, and Carlisle insisted their relationship is fine.
"Right now Stack is going to be inactive for a while and get his foot better," Carlisle said. "Then we'll see where we are. Stack is still a very good player and a guy that's done an awful lot of great things here over the last four and a half years. He's still firmly in our picture."
Owner Mark Cuban said in an e-mail to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the Mavericks were working with Stackhouse, and believe he "can be a valuable contributor to the organization on the court and off."
Team president Donnie Nelson told the Star-Telegram: "With our relationship and openly and honestly communicating, we'll be able to come up with a game plan and hopefully that game plan will be one that includes Jerry in a Maverick uniform. If it's just not a comfortable situation, if it's a situation where the minutes are just not there, then we'll work together with his agent and see if there's some win-win together for both of us."
But with the Mavericks turning to youth at shooting guard, Stackhouse's time in Dallas may be short-lived. Stackhouse acknowledged he'd like to move to a team that has a chance to win a title -- and would welcome a two-time All-Star.
"It's important to me in the last couple of years that I want to play that I'm happy," Stackhouse said. "Just be happy and with a chance, hopefully to really contend for a championship."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.