Donuts: De-Mystifying the Peja Pickup

The 48-hour waiting period following Peja Stojakovic's release from Toronto comes due Monday. Peja's seemingly ready to begin his four-month life as a Mav. Here's a de-mystification of how this process is working, complete with Alexis Ajinca's departure from Dallas … Monday De-Mystification Donuts!

DONUT 1: We begin with Dallas-based agent Bouna Ndiaye, who is very friendly with the Dallas Mavericks. He's Roddy B's guy, he's Ian Mahinmi's guy, he's Ajinca's guy. Ndiaye is "international.'' The Mavs personnel department is "international.'' There is a fit and there is a relationship and when ‘Lex first came here as a throw-in from the Chandler-from-Charlotte deal, the agent and the Mavs agreed they'd try to find a playing-time home for him.

DONUT 2: The Raptors play in an "international city'' and are in the organizational mood (at around 20 games below .500) to give the kid a tryout of sorts before he becomes a free agent this summer.

DONUT 3: Long before that thought was percolating between Toronto and Dallas, however, Dallas was wanting to make a trade (picks or cash or junk for Peja Stojakovic) or what we'll call a "non-trade trade.''


Mark Cuban insists that the two transactions are "completely separate independent deals. One had nothing to do with the other.''

DONUT 4: Both teams agree they are in "take-this guy-off-my-roster" mode. "Completely separate independent deals'' ... But they do put one another in limbo. The wheels are in motion on Thursday as the Mavs are in Chicago, and it's all sort of awkward as TNT cameras capture Dallas coach Rick Carlisle explaining the circumstances to 'Lex and sending him back to the team hotel. Ajinca would not make the trip to New Jersey. Instead he'd head home to Dallas and wait ... likely while packing his bags for his new home in Toronto.

DONUT 5: Why was Toronto thinking all this about Peja? Peja was waived Thursday because Toronto has no use for him. But as we've already written, you could trust that Toronto knew Dallas was waiting, and most likely waived Peja only after talking to the Mavs and working the non-coincidentally-timed swap to follow. And indeed, Cuban has now revealed that the two clubs visited three weeks ago, following Caron Butler's season-ending injury -- and Cuban was in the league offices in New York this weekend showing NBA officials the saved text messages to confirm those exchanges -- and by the way, the legal nature of them.


"We'd like to try to trade him first, but yeah,'" Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo told Cuban when the Mavs asked about the possibility of an eventual release. At that time, Dallas also asked for and received permission from Colangelo to speak with Stojakovic agent David Bauman.


Dallas GM Donnie Nelson then visited with Bauman to confirm Peja's interest in coming to the Mavs.

DONUT 6: The weeks passed. The need intensified for the Mavs. Toronto experienced no movement in whatever it was attempting to do. To have roster room for Peja, Dallas would have had to waive someone and pay tax on their salary. Instead, late last week, Toronto agreed to take Ajinca's contract and free up the roster slot for Dallas, thereby eliminating tax on Ajinca's salary.

After Stojakovic was waived, Cuban says, "(Colangelo) calls and says, ‘What about Ajinca?'' Cuban said. "Are you guys still interested in trading him and paying his salary?'

What we wrote on Friday fits: The Raps' reward for doing so was a second-round pick. Cash was probably the Mavs reimbursing Toronto the cost of Ajinca's rest-of-season salary.

DONUT 7: Mixed in: The Mavs also felt it was a benefit to Ajinca to land him on a team rather than waive him, and little details like that create good relations with agents when the next coveted player comes along. Bouna Ndiaye is a Dallas guy with a European tie. Colangelo and the Mavs obviously communicate well, too. (See the Shawn Marion acquisition.) These are friendships worth keeping.

DONUT 8: The scrub body going from Toronto to Dallas is completely insignificant except that it's needed because you can't trade Ajinca/pick/cash to Toronto for air.

DONUT 9: A TE was created by the deal's structure and awarded to Dallas, but it wasn't a consideration of any sort in the deal.

DONUT 10: So in the end … Dallas gets Peja to make some 3's, and simply loses Ajinca in the process. … a "non-trade trade'' of Ajinca-for-Peja is a roster plus. Toronto saves some money and gets a close-up look at a 7-footer with some promise.

Why are other teams looking askew at the transactions?


"I think a lot of teams were upset because we got the jump on them (on Peja),'' Cuban says.


DONUT 11: There is no pretense in Dallas as to what Peja is. He's a near-legendary 3-point marksman who makes for a tough cover on the perimeter due to his size. He's nothing more than a cog in the Dallas wheel, but -- assuming his knee is OK – as we take a deep look at his numbers we say he could be a cog that sometimes lines up with the first team (as Sasha has recently done) in order to keep other cogs in their most productive spots. Meaning, Jet and ‘Trix coming off the bench.

DONUT 12: And this summer? When Ajinca is a free agent again, guess which city will probably be his part-time home? Guess which NBA players he'll spend his time with? Guess which NBA team he'll hope to re-sign with?

In the end, the clubs jumped through a few hoops (it's maybe fortuitous for the Mavs that they happened to be scheduled to be in the New York/New Jersey area this weekend so Cuban could display his techno-evidence) ...

In the end, "The trade goes through and (Stojakovic) signs the contract Monday," Cuban said. "… I expect it. I mean, it's the NBA, but you know, that's what I expect."

And in the end, the non-trade trade of Peja-for-Ajinca might mean a cheap rental of Peja and a boomerang of Ajinca … meaning nothing of any value was really lost by Dallas at all.


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