Currently, the 14 players on the Mavericks roster will make a push for the playoffs. They will do so as the front office never found a trade worth making as the trade deadline passed on Thursday. With 14 players on the active roster, that leaves one open spot available for the Mavs to acquire a player. Without buyout season winding down, the general belief is if the Mavs bring in an additional player it likely would not be much more than warm body that can be a practice player. That might be the case, but there is one exception to the theory in the form of Sasha Pavlovic.
Looking back, Pavlovic was brought on to the Mavs roster on January 10 after Caron Butler injured his knee and he was seen as a stop-gap as the team assessed what it would do going forward. The guard mentioned that he was in a new position being in a 10-day contract situation and that he would do his best. That effort was enough as Pavlovic did well and earned a second 10-day contract.
If you remember, Dallas was 5-1 with Pavlovic in the starting lineup. He averaged 4.1 points in 10 games, including the six starts. He showed flashes of productivity on both ends of the floor as he displayed some play-making abilities as well as presented the ability to play defense on the perimeter. The team decided not to sign him for the remainder of the season after the Serbian guard completed two 10-day deals with Dallas despite his instant popularity with the coaches and his teammates based on his ability to learn the system. Chemistry has been mentioned a lot as of late and Pavlovic was considered a positive in that department as he did his job and made sure not to disrupt the chemistry that had already existed in the locker room. When it came down to making a choice on the guard, the decision to release Pavlovic after his second 10-day contract came down from the front office and it basically involved flexibility going forward.
The flexibility was created to brace for a situation where someone could get hurt and they needed to sign somebody. The idea of Pavlovic coming back with Peja Stojakovic and Roddy Beaubois performing like they are could be seen as extraneous. But, if you have the space and there are no other options, it makes a lot of sense.
After not signing with the Dallas Mavericks for the remainder of the season, he signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Hornets. New Orleans originally signed Pavlovic due to starting forward Trevor Ariza sprained his right ankle. The Hornets decided not to offer a second 10-day contract to the forward after his initial contract expired on February 14.
With New Orleans refusing to give Pavlovic another contract, he remains a free agent. Dallas 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 buyout. Players must be waived before March 1. If a player is waived after that date, he is ineligible to be included in the playoff roster of any team that signs him for the remainder of that season.
Mark Followill, the television play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks, mentioned the idea of Pavlovic returning to the Mavericks during the MOR Trade Deadline Special. When all the dust settles and you still have an open roster spot and Caron Butler's rehabilitation process keeps him out longer than he expects, then bringing Pavlovic back makes a lot of sense. The organization loved him as a player, it just came down to dollars and sense.
Mark Cuban spoke about the decision to let Pavlovic go at the end of January and it is hard to imagine the overall opinion has changed. Here is what Mark Cuban had to say:
"You can sign him for the rest of the year and then release him, but that’s expensive. So, if we end up needing him, and hopefully he hasn’t been picked up, we sign him then."
"On the flip side, it would have been, ‘Aren’t you upset you kept (Pavlovic) when such-and-such became available?’"
"We just wanted the flexibility. There's a risk he gets picked up by somebody else. But if he doesn't, we'll still have that option (of re-signing him for the rest of the season). We like him."
With Peja Stojakovic as your defender against small forwards, concern starts to grow when it comes to perimeter defense. That is not to say that Stojakovic is terrible as a defender. The forward has actually done relatively well as a defender, but it is a given that he does have his limitations on that end of the floor. Pavlovic could come in and play in the starting lineup with Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Kidd as your primary wing defenders. The floor might not be spread out as much as it was with Stojakovic on the floor, but the defense would be improved along the way and Pavlovic did show the capability of putting the ball in the basket. There are a number of routes Rick Carlisle could take if Pavlovic returned to the lineup, based on the match-ups that are presented to them. It would just make one of the deepest teams in the league, if not the deepest, that much stronger.
There are other options the Mavs could look at as the final member of the Mavs, but familiarity could go a long way. As it was mentioned earlier, Pavlovic showed the ability to provide positives on both ends of the floor. As the Mavs continue to scour the waiver wire, they do remember Pavlovic and he could very well be the option as the 15th member of the Mavs.
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