Will Peja Stojakovic Continue NBA Career After Winning First Championship?
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After winning an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks last season, Prederag Stojaković is an unrestricted free agent. It is not known at this point whether Stojaković will be re-signed by Dallas, will go elsewhere in 2011-12 or choose to retire after a 13-year NBA career.
While with Dallas, Stojaković found a spot in the rotation during the course of the regular season and even during the playoffs all the way until the NBA Finals. He was relegated to the bench in favor of DeShawn Stevenson and Corey Brewer, who were counted on for the defense in trying to slow down the Miami Heat’s wing players.
Stojaković has had a long professional basketball resume that includes playing with PAOK (a Greek team) before entering the NBA with the Sacramento Kings as a rookie in 1998. Stojaković was actually drafted by the Kings in 1996, but did not make his NBA debut until 1998 since he was still under contract with PAOK.
In his seven-and-a-half seasons playing for the Kings, Stojaković saw his scoring average increase every season until 2003-04, where he averaged a career-high 24.2 points per game. His three-point shooting average also increased until 2003-04, where it peaked at 43.3 percent.
He was named as an All-Star in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04 while winning the three-point shootout the first two years. Towards the end of his stint in Sacramento, Stojaković dealt with various injuries that caused him to miss many games and fall out of the rotation.
Stojaković was dealt to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a sign-and-trade deal that sent Andrew Betts to the Indiana Pacers. Stojaković signed a multi-year deal with New Orleans, and this took many by surprise, as many thought the Indiana Pacers would re-sign Stojaković right as free agency began.
In five seasons with the Hornets, Stojaković was a contributor as a scorer and three-point shooter, playing alongside Chris Paul. He did deal with a back injury that forced him to miss games, but was a valuable asset for the team. Stojaković was traded at the beginning of the 2010-11 NBA season.
The Hornets traded Stojaković along with Jerryd Bayless to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for David Andersen, Marcus Banks and Jarrett Jack. With an expiring contract, Stojaković was sent to the Raptors, where he appeared in only two games before suffering a left knee injury that caused him to miss 26 games, and also saw him eventually be released by the team.
Stojaković was looking to join a contender. In order to win his first NBA championship, he decided to sign with the Dallas Mavericks for the minimum amount and saw his dream come true this past June after the Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in six games for their first championship.
Although Stojakovic was not part of the regular rotation for the Finals series, he was instrumental in leading the team there with his shooting in the series against the Los Angeles Lakers. He also did not complain when taken out of the lineup and instead was willing to make sacrifices in order for the Mavericks to attempt something for the first time in their franchise history.
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