The Mavericks signed Aleksandar "Sasha" Pavlović to a 10-day contract over the weekend. On Monday, the media got their first look at the forward. Pavlović (6-7, 235) is a seven-year NBA veteran and he holds career averages of 5.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 16.5 minutes in 452 career games (127 starts) with Utah, Cleveland and Minnesota.
Originally a first round draft pick (19th overall) of the Utah Jazz in 2003, Pavlović played one season in Utah before being selected by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2004 expansion draft and traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a first round draft pick. Pavlović played in Cleveland from 2004-09 and he had a career year in 2006-07 when he averaged 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists while helping the Cavaliers win the Eastern Conference Championship and earn a trip to the 2007 NBA Finals where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. The native of Bar, Yugoslavia, was also a member of the Serbia and Monetenegro 2004 Olympic Team that competed in Athens, Greece.
To stay in game shape, Pavlović spent the summer working out in Europe and he still has a home in the Cleveland area which allowed him to work out closer to NBA teams and be available once a team needed a player. It's not every day that you can sign a player who was a rotational player on a team that made it to the finals. The Mavericks waived Steve Novak and gave Pavlović an opportunity. "He’s an experienced veteran," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the newest member. "He’s a good defender. He can shoot the ball from three-point range and put it on the floor. We felt like he was the best available guy to fit into our system at this time. So, we’re happy to have the opportunity to have him here. This is a chance to look at a different player right now," Carlisle added. "For the guys available right now, he’s a different kind of player than Novak. So, that’s the reasoning behind it."
In the short time he's been with the team, Pavlović has impressed the staff. "There were a lot of names we looked at and to us he was the guy that made the most sense for us, what we needed and how he would fit in with our personnel," Carlisle said. "Off a day-and-a half of having him here, I’m very pleased with the condition that he’s in, his IQ for the game and what we’ve thrown at him in a short period of time."
After the thrill of the NBA Finals, which he mentioned was the best experience he's ever had, Pavlović was sent to Minnesota and he wasn't the same player. Pavlović is hopeful that he can regain his form from previous years. "I’m just happy to have this opportunity," Pavlović explained. "I’ve been working out by myself all summer and also the past couple of months. I’ve been staying ready. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team win games. And whatever Coach (Carlisle) asks me to do; I’m going to do it."
Over the past couple of seasons, Pavlović has had a roller coaster ride when it comes to his perimeter shooting percentages. From 2003 to 2010 he shot 27.1, 38.5, 36.5, 40.5, 29.8, 41.1 and 29.7% from beyond the arc. "It’s tough, but you've got to stay positive," Pavlović said. "This is a tough league to be in and even tougher to stay in. As soon as you relax or have one bad year like I had you’re out. Last year I was a little bit down on my confidence and I think that’s the reason I didn’t have a job. But, like they say, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger."
Pavlović got extended practice time to learn the offensive sets and the results appeared to be positive. He handled the ball well and his jumper looked fluid and he shot with confidence.
The forward understands that needs to be a ready shooter and capable defender and he is willing to take on the challenge. It's also a unique challenge in the sense that Pavlović has been out of the league for nearly half of a season. "This is the first time in my seven years that I have been in this position," Pavlović said. "I'm going to do my best and whatever happens happens."