- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Peja Stojakovic declared himself healthy and delighted to be in Dallas. He just isn't sure when he'll make his Mavericks debut.
Stojakovic, the 13-year veteran small forward who signed with the Mavericks on Monday after receiving a buyout from the Toronto Raptors, hasn't played a game since Nov. 26 because of irritation in his left knee.
"I feel OK," Stojakovic said after the Mavericks' shootaround. "It's just that I haven't played basketball for four or five weeks. It's more getting into the playing shape. It's something that I have to work with the trainers and the coaches and keep progressing. We'll make a decision then."
Stojakovic has played only eight games this season, including only two after he was traded by the New Orleans Hornets to Toronto in November. However, he described his knee problem as "nothing major," saying it caused swelling that lingered longer than expected but shouldn't be a problem if managed properly. He said he's been working out at close to full speed for the last week or 10 days.
Once cleared to play, Stojakovic could emerge as Caron Butler's replacement in the starting lineup. The Mavericks have started three players at small forward since Butler suffered a season-ending knee injury on New Year's Day. Sasha Pavlovic, who is on his second 10-day contract, has started the last three games.
The Mavericks believe that Stojakovic's shooting touch -- he's a career 40-percent 3-point shooter who scored 17 points in 19 minutes during a Hornets win over Dallas in November -- should give a significant boost to an offense that has failed to score 90 points in six of the last seven games.
But Carlisle has promised to be patient with Stojakovic, vowing not to rush him into action.
"We're optimistic," said Carlisle, who coached Stojakovic for 40 games in Indiana during the 2005-06 season. "We're going to evaluate this on a day-to-day basis. But it's pretty obvious the things that he brings: great experience, size, great shooting ability, great spacing the floor."
The Mavericks received permission from the Raptors to speak to Stojakovic's agent, David Bauman, before the buyout arrangement with Toronto was agreed upon. Stojakovic gave the Mavericks a commitment to come to Dallas once he cleared waivers, declining to seriously consider other contenders who would have had interest in him.
"They have one goal. That's to win the championship," said Stojakovic, a three-time All-Star with a career average of 17.2 points per game. "I would like to be a part of that."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.
18hMatt Walks, ESPN.com