**UPDATE** The Dallas Mavericks Have Officially Signed Peja Stojakovic
The Dallas Mavericks believe that they moved one step closer to getting Peja Stojakovic and they believe it is a matter of time before he can sign on the dotted line. They believe in it so much that the former three-time All Star attended part of the Mavericks practice in order to being the learning process. Word came on Monday afternoon that the league did approve the Toronto Raptors/Dallas Mavericks deal with Alexis Ajinca departing the Mavericks and that does free up a roster spot for Stojakovic.
The Mavericks look forward to the shooter's arrival on the court. There is no official word on the terms of the contract as he has not officially signed with the team. After he signs with the team, Dallas will then conduct a physical and if everything is clear, he will be an active member of the Mavericks. If the Mavericks are not pleased with the results of the physical, they would still have the right to nix the signing.
"We’ve just got to be patient and go through the process," Mavericks GM and President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson said.
The 33-year-old forward hasn’t played since November 26 when he totaled 15 minutes and scored 13 points on 5-for-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point range as a member of the Raptors against the Boston Celtics. The 13-year pro has been sidelined since with a minor knee injury. "He hasn’t played in awhile, and we’ve got to get him back into mid-season game form and take it from there," Nelson explained. "We need to see where he’s at physically. He’s stayed in shape. I think he’s fairly close, but until he gets out there and gets a couple of practices under his belt, we just won’t know."
It should not come as a shock that the Mavericks will take a cautious approach when it comes to bringing Stojakovic on board. "There’s gonna be a period where we’re gonna have to make sure his conditioning and health is right before we put him on the floor," Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle added. "I don’t know what that period of time is gonna be, but I think it’s important to understand that this is not a turn-key thing and now you have a starter. There’s gonna be a process involved, there’s gonna be a period of time for integration and dealing with whatever health issues remain and conditioning. He hasn’t played a game in six or seven weeks."
The team is confident that Stojakovic will find his groove, it is just a matter of when that will happen. Nelson already believes part of the battle will be won the moment Stojakovic hits the floor. "I know he can shoot that basketball and he’s got to be guarded as soon as he steps in the building," Nelson joked. He is right as it will allow players like Dirk Nowitzki to work on the low post and players will be able to penetrate into the lane. Nelson also commented that he believes the way the Mavericks operate on defense, Stojakovic will be able to fit in and be a factor in that department.
Little-Know Fact: Carlise was Stojakovic's coach for a brief stint during the 2005-2006 season. The Sacramento Kings traded away the forward to the Indiana Pacers for Ron Artest. That led to Carlisle coaching Stojakovic for 40 games before the forward signed with New Orleans as a free agent. Carlisle knows the Mavericks have the chance to get more than just a one-dimensional player. "He’s one of the greatest shooters to ever play the game … He did a great job for us in Indiana before he signed with New Orleans. And he’s not just a shooter. He’s a guy that’s a lot taller than you think, about 6-9 1/2 or 6-10. His rebounding numbers are deceptively good. He brings length to any team that he’s on. And his outside shooting is always gonna open up space for you offensively. So, there’s a lot of things that we like about him, and we feel very fortunate that we can get this deep into a conversation about getting him, because he’s gonna be an asset for us," Carlisle said.
The coach did mention that the newest Maverick will be inactive for the game against the LA Clippers on Tuesday and potentially on Thursday as well against the Houston Rockets.
Jason Kidd voiced his level of excitement in regards to imminent acquisition after practice on Monday. "We’re happy," Kidd said. "Hopefully (the deal) gets done and we can have the opportunity to play with a guy that can flat out shoot the ball." Kidd even joked that Stojakovic might be the best foreign shooter on the Mavericks roster. Nowitzki might have a different opinion or maybe not, Stojakovic is a 40% career three-point shooter. "When (Stojakovic) is on the court and you leave him wide open, you can count it," Kidd concluded.
The Mavericks are always looking for another shooter and they are in hopeful, in due time, that they can say they hit nothing but the bottom of the net in that department.