Earl K. Sneed reports from the Mavericks' Monday practice, where Sasha Pavlovic joined the team after signing a 10-day contract.
DALLAS — Monday morning, the Mavericks announced the signing of free-agent forward Sasha Pavlovic to a 10-day contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The seven-year vet is expected to fill the void left after the team waived forward Steve Novak last week. Pavlovic, a 6-foot-7, 235-pounder, could also take away some of the sting caused by Caron Butler’s likely season-ending knee surgery.
Pavlovic has spent time with Utah, Cleveland and Minnesota in his NBA career, averaging 5.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 16.5 minutes in 452 career games (127 starts). The native of Bar, Yugoslavia and former first-round draft pick of the Jazz in 2003 is also a career 35-percent shooter from 3-point range.
“He’s an experienced veteran,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the signing. “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,” the coach added. “For the guys available right now, he’s a different kind of player than Novak. So, that’s the reasoning behind it.”
But after a disappointing season in his lone year in Minnesota, Pavlovic says he found himself jobless this summer. And while working out on his own in Cleveland, he awaited a call from an NBA team. That call came from Dallas. And now, at least for the next 10 days, he is a Maverick.
“I’m just happy to have this opportunity,” Pavlovic 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 gonna do whatever it takes to help the team win games. And whatever Coach [Carlisle] asks me to do, I’m gonna do it.
“I see great teammates all around me. And they all said hi to me when I got here. And I also played last year with Brian Cardinal, and he told me, ‘Don’t worry about anything, the teammates are great and the coaches are great.' So, that’s a big plus.”
The team wasted no time getting Pavlovic acclimated to his new surroundings, as the sharpshooter joined and participated in the Mavericks’ Monday morning practice and immediately began learning Carlisle’s system. And after teaming with Cardinal when the two were in Minnesota, much like the big man, Pavlovic says that he too is looking to fit right in with Dallas’ veteran core.
His biggest impact came in Cleveland, where he spent five years and saw his best season as a pro in the 2006-07 campaign, while averaging 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists as a part-time starter to help the Cavaliers advance to the Finals. And it’s that playoff experience that Pavlovic hopes to bring to the Mavs, although he admits that he essentially has just 10 days to prove himself.
“I’m a pretty good shooter, so I’m gonna try to do that. And then also defensively, I’m gonna do that. And Coach asked me to do that, and that’s what I’m gonna do … That’s exactly what I’ve got to do. I’m here for 10 days for now. And whatever it takes and whatever I’ve got to do, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna give my best,” Pavlovic said.
The former starting swingman for the ’07 Eastern Conference champs will get a chance to make a first impression when the Mavericks (26-10) begin a four-game road trip Wednesday night in Indiana. The Mavs are also hoping to have leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki back, after going just 2-5 in the seven games the nine-time All-Star power forward missed with a sprained right knee.
But with or without Nowitzki, the Mavericks’ veteran leaders know that they will have to right the ship and do so away from the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center. That’s just fine by center Tyson Chandler and guard Jason Terry, as the two prepare to lead the Mavericks armed with a 12-2 road record this season.
“If we go out here and have success on the road with the schedule that’s presented to us, we’ll be pretty happy,” Terry said.
“We understand where we’re at,” Chandler added. “We have our leader, our captain, our everything has been out for awhile. And not only has he [Nowitzki] been out, but we lost a warrior in Caron, and we’ve dealt all year without Roddy [Beaubois]. So, we understand where we’re at. And once we get our guys back we’ll be alright … Potentially getting Dirk back on the road, and then being on the road, us against the opposing team and their whole stadium, should get us back on track.”
Note: The Mavs start their four-game road trip in Indiana against the Pacers Wednesday night in the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Mavericks-Pacers matchup will tip off at 6 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
The team returns to the American Airlines Center Jan. 19 to host the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. It will be the first time the two teams play this season. That game will tip off at 8 p.m. CT, airing locally on TXA 21 and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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