TORONTO - Peja Stojakovic has no idea how long he’ll be in Toronto, or what his role with one of the NBA’s youngest squads will be, but he’s happy to be here.
The 33-year-old dual Serbian/Greek citizen called his arrival in Toronto, a city he said feels much more like “home” and an “international environment” than his previous stops in Sacramento and New Orleans, a “new opportunity (with) new challenges.”
Though the Raptors are the worst long-distance shooting team in the league (29.6%) and Stojakovic now becomes — with apologies to Dell Curry and Jason Kapono — the greatest shooter ever employed by the club (40% career mark from three, 89.4% from the line, 17.3 points per game) he is well aware that how much action he sees or time he spends with the club is very much up in the air.
“I still don’t know what they have in mind as far as making moves during the season ... (but) that’s our job. We are professionals. We’ve got to deal with that,” Stojakovic said.
“I feel great physically. I feel like I can help this team if the opportunity presents itself.”
The veteran is in the last year of a lucrative deal and knows hefty expiring contracts like his $14.5-million US stipend are always in demand. He has not yet met with general manager Bryan Colangelo to discuss long-term plans.
“I really don’t know what to expect out of this situation. Personally, I feel good. I’m ready to play. It’s up to the organization, how they’re going to use me, which direction they’re going,” he said.
Stojakovic would be a good fit as a bench scorer at small forward behind Sonny Weems, but the logjam forming at power forward could push Linas Kleiza back into the mix at the three, even though he has shown he is probably better suited to the power forward slot.
As well, on a team that currently places more emphasis on development over actual wins, Stojakovic might have more value as a means to acquire draft picks or prospects.
Until someone says otherwise, Raptors head coach Jay Triano is planning to have Stojakovic at his disposal and is looking forward to it.
“We’ve got to find a way for him to fit into our rotation. If he does that and knocks down shots, he’s going to help us,” Triano said.
“We knew he was a good shooter, but just to watch (him shoot up close at two practices), there’s no variance on where that ball goes. It goes right through the middle every time.”
Point guard Jerryd Bayless — acquired with Stojakovic in the weekend trade with the Hornets — said teammates will quickly learn to get him the ball.
“Peja is the best shooter I’ve ever seen in my life ... he’s an automatic assist,” Bayless said.
Whether Stojakovic assists the Raptors more with his play or with his contract will be determined down the line.