Before Dallas can sign Peja Stojakovic after he clears waivers next week — both of those things will happen — they have to clear out a roster spot for him.
Meet Alexis Ajinca, the project big man out of France who has been languishing at the end of the Mavericks bench. Toronto is the kind of place young project centers can get some burn, and the Raptors have interest in him.
We’ll let you connect the dots with what Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told the Associated Press before Thursday night’s Mavericks game.
“Ajinca is not here tonight because he’s inactive. We’ve sent him to the hotel because there is a possibility that he will be traded. … Nothing has happened yet and I’m not sure anything is going to happen tonight.”
The trade likely would be for a second round pick.
Ajinca is a physical specimen — 7-foot, 220 pounds — but one who is still figuring out the game and how he can impact it, now entering his third year in the league (with some time in the D-League as well). This past Summer League you could see moments of progress — games where there were more good plays than bad, games where he was a beast on the boards — but there were always mental errors. The game does not always flow naturally for him.
The Mavericks are in it to win it, they don’t have time for a raw youngster to learn on the job (although they were so banged up for a while he got two starts). The Raptors have room to let him learn. This might be a good fit. Maybe better than Peja in Dallas, but that’s another discussion.