As we "wallow in the mire" of a 2-5 record since Dirk Nowitzki was temporarily removed from the court, and Caron Butler found his season abruptly cut short, Mavs Nation has seen their thoughts set adrift with trade possibilities … or to loosely quote songs from The Doors.
Undoubtedly, Sasha Pavlovic is a name that will fail to light the fire beneath the optimism of many. To be as succinct as possible, if Sasha is given his 10-day contract, as has been reported, the Mavs are essentially resigning the SF version of a player they just released in Steve Novak.
This may not sound like much, primarily due to the fact that it isn't.
There are times when a move is designed to put a team over the top, or deliver an instantly tangible level of improvement. At others, there is simply a smaller need that can be addressed without risk and with little chance of a monumental impact.
Signing Pavlovic to a 10-day contract is clearly the latter. ... if that.
Since watching Caron Butler go down, Dallas has essentially played without a small forward on its roster … when also considering the implications of the Dirk injury.
DeShawn Stevenson, the most recent player to get the starting nod at the position, has filled the role admirably. Yet, the fact remains that Stevenson is more aptly suited to be a shooting guard.
Meaning, regardless of the fact that he has stepped up to challenge at hand, DeShawn is being asked to play out of position.
With Dirk out, Shawn Marion has been starting at power forward, and gathering a large portion of his minutes there. If Dirk can return soon, as is the hope, Marion would seem like the odds-on favorite to slide back over to the starting small forward slot, thus allowing Stevenson to return to his natural shooting guard role.
Once this takes place, the fact remains that Marion may be the only true small forward on the roster … and, as has been noted in this space, his production and comfort are often most thoroughly mined when playing power forward.
To be blunt, the Mavs need a small forward. Sasha Pavlovic is just that. The Mavs saw enough in Steve Novak, and the singular weapon he brought to the court, three-point shooting, to have him on the roster beyond the preseason. Pavlovic can also offer this as well.
For the sake of reference, much like Novak, Sasha has twice hit over 40 percent of his three-point attempts in a season. For his career, he hits at a rate of 35.2 percent behind the arc.
There aren't many willing to step out on a limb in praise of Pavlovic's defensive presence. However, in direct comparison to Novak, he brings a noticeable statistical step up. For their careers, Novak carries a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 112. Sasha has a much more respectable number of 107.
That said, you wouldn't want either on the court for an important defensive possession.
This is a minor end-of-the-bench move that needs to be thought of along the lines of last year's 10-day signing of Von Wafer. DB.com will cover the heck out of it because that's what we do. But the 10-day guy's presence means little.
Perhaps there will be minutes to be found for Sasha, especially if Dirk doesn't immediately return. Or, just as likely, he will rarely, if at all, find himself active in his 10 days before riding on in search of an opportunity with another team. Either way, there's little here to justify anger or pessimism about the direction being followed by the Mavs thinkers. (Though we understand the interest in Joe Alexander.)
A player at a position of need is being given a test drive for the 15th roster spot. If things work out? Great. If they don't? No harm done.
No further plans are curtailed or hampered by the move.
This is a minor step being taken to address an obvious need. Taken in that context, there's little here to be either overly impressed, or overtly upset over.