<
>

Hoping for bigger payday later, George stays with Mavs

DALLAS -- After opting out of his contract and looking for a
better deal elsewhere, swingman Devean George is coming back to the
Dallas Mavericks.

Devean George

George

George has agreed to a roughly $2.4 million, one-year deal that
keeps him as a reserve on one of the NBA's top teams and puts him
in position for a bigger payday next summer, agent Mark Bartelstein
said Monday.

George would've made around $2 million under the deal he signed
last summer, but opted out of it last month. Bartelstein spoke with
several teams, only to find that the best combination of salary and
championship potential came from Dallas.

Part of the lure was that after this season the Mavs will hold
George's "Bird rights," which means they can sign him again for a
larger salary without certain salary cap implications.

"His goal was to come back," Bartelstein said. "But you want
to take a look around and make sure you're not bypassing something
that really was significant. It would've taken something major to
take him out of Dallas."

The deal can't be finalized before Wednesday, and team officials
can't comment before then. However, president of basketball
operations Donnie Nelson said recently that the club was committed
to bringing back its key players -- as demonstrated by the
re-signing of Jerry Stackhouse late last week.

George and Stackhouse were part of a strong bench that helped
the Mavericks win 67 games, fifth-best in league history, before a
stunning first-round playoff loss to Golden State.

George, who turns 30 next month, averaged 6.4 points and 3.6
rebounds last season. He played 60 games, starting 17, and averaged
21.4 minutes. Coach Avery Johnson likes having him as a defensive
ace, especially against perimeter players. George played his first
seven years with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three titles and
reaching the finals a fourth time.

Bartelstein said the early playoff exit with Dallas didn't
discourage George. If anything, it made him want to return,
especially after seeing Golden State's Baron Davis turn in the kind
of offensive performance George was supposed to snuff. The Mavs
realized they needed another stopper after being purged by Miami's
Dwyane Wade in the 2006 NBA finals.

"He was disappointed because he was hurt, he wasn't himself in
the playoffs," Bartelstein said, citing a late-season knee injury.
"He wants to contribute more to help the team get to the
[championship] level."