The Dallas Mavericks are set to acquire Peja Stojakovic, who was recently released from the Toronto Raptors, once he clears waivers.
To free up a roster spot for Stojakovic, the Mavericks will trade Alexis Ajinca to the Raptors along with cash considerations (a Mark Cuban specialty), and a 2013 second-round draft pick. In return the Mavericks will get the draft 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,” Marc Stein reports.
This is the second time that Stojakovic will have changed teams this season as he was dealt to Toronto in a trade with New Orleans early on in the season. Now the question must be asked: who is Peja Stojakovic at this point in his career?
Stojakovic has only appeared in eight games, yes eight, this season. At this point is where I would usually insert statistics but a total of eight games merits none. He has missed the previous 26 games due to a sore left knee which dates back to November 26, 2010.
His age is also an issue at 33. Dallas is already a team full of veteran players and getting another one, especially one with health issues warrants questions. To top it off, Stojakovic is simply a weak-side three-point shooter. The Mavericks already have two capable weak-side deep threats in Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson. However, in the most basic sense, Stojakovic is a small forward and the Mavericks are in desperate need to fill the void left by Caron Butler at that position. Apparently, they are incredibly desperate.
It is unlikely that Stojakovic will see much if any time on the court once he joins the Mavericks so there must be ulterior motives in bringing him in.
Since Toronto bought out the remainder of his contract in order to release him, Dallas is getting Stojakovic on the cheap. It is likely that acquiring Stojakovic is part of a larger scheme that the Mavericks are working on in order to completely replace Butler’s absence and turn around their recently spiraling season. Dallas recently signed Sasha Pavlovic to a second ten-day contract in yet another stop-gap move to fill the vacated small forward position.
The Mavericks have established themselves as movers having completed blockbuster deals each of the previous two seasons. The current signings are a far cry from the team’s normal modus operandi. Therefore, the acquisition of Stojakovic is likely to represent one piece of a trade puzzle. He is trade bait. He will be grouped along with a number of other players (hopefully J.J. Barea) and shipped off in exchange for a small forward and possibly a backup point guard.
Now, this is all just speculation of course. However, what are the Mavericks’ realistic long-term, or even short-term, plans for Stojakovic? He does not make the team better and he certainly will not help them regain their winning form of earlier in the season. He has no future in Dallas. This is a team that was built to win now and with a potential lockout next season this group of veterans may never get another shot at a title run.
Peja Stojakovic is not the answer the Dallas Mavericks are looking for. No, he is merely a pawn in Cuban’s chess game to replace Butler and return to the NBA Finals.