The Toronto Raptors and Peja Stojakovic are close to completing a buyout that will put the former All-Star sharpshooter on the open market, according to sources close to the situation.
The deal is expected to be completed later Thursday, sources said.
The Raptors publicly acknowledged almost immediately after acquiring Stojakovic from New Orleans that a buyout would be considered if no follow-up trade could be swung. But the Raptors, reluctant to take on long-term salary, were unlikely to find a workable trade, with Stojakovic earning $15 million in the final season of an original five-year deal he signed with the Hornets in the summer of 2006.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Stojakovic is determined to return to the Western Conference and join a playoff contender once he clears waivers and becomes a free agent, with three teams at the top of his list: Dallas, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Mavericks, sources say, are considered the favorite to land Stojakovic. They have minutes to offer at small forward and a well-chronicled need for perimeter shooting. And joining the Mavericks would enable Stojakovic to live within short flying distance of his wife and children, who remained in New Orleans after he was dealt to the Raptors.
Both the Mavericks and the Lakers have a need on the wing thanks to injuries, with Dallas losing Caron Butler to a season-ending knee tear and the Lakers losing newcomer Matt Barnes for two months to a knee injury.
Stojakovic made three All-Star appearances as a member of the Sacramento Kings and sports a career success rate of 40.1 percent from 3-point range. He's been plagued by knee trouble this season and has only appeared in two games for the Raptors, but he did leave an impression on the Mavericks by scoring 17 points in 19 minutes in Dallas on Nov. 15, just days before New Orleans sent the 33-year-old and Jerryd Bayless to Toronto for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks and David Andersen.
Stojakovic forfeited roughly $440,000 from a trade bonus in his contract to make the salary-cap math work in the deal that sent him to Toronto.
The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have released forward Peja Stojakovic. Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed.
“We were clear from the beginning that our trade with New Orleans was made with the future in mind, so a buyout or trade of Peja’s contract was a likely option,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “Although he did not fit into our plan of developing our young core talent, I’m sure that Peja will add significantly to any veteran team that signs him.”
It is pretty obvious that there was an agreement between the two sides once the Raptors bought out Peja.
Ajinca, meanwhile, will be dealt to the Raptors along with cash considerations and a 2013 second-round pick that Toronto had sent to Dallas in last year's draft. In return, Dallas will receive the rights to 2007 second-round pick Georgios Printezis (who plays in Spain and is no longer considered an NBA prospect) and create a salary-cap exception equal to Ajinca's $1.5 million salary.