League holds up Mavs-Raptors trade

With several rival front offices privately charging an illegal side deal had been arranged to get Toronto’s Peja Stojakovic(notes) to the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA has held up a trade to send Mavs forward Alexis Ajinca(notes) to the Raptors, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday afternoon.

These cases are difficult to prove, and the league office is obligated to withhold approval of the trade until it presumably checks into the charges. Several sources expect the trade to likely go through, however, there was no clear indication of just how serious the NBA is considering vetoing the deal except that league officials had initially refused to rubber-stamp it.

“When teams complain, the league checks it out,” one front-office executive said.

The Raptors agreed to a contract buyout with Stojakovic on Thursday that would allow the veteran forward to sign as a free agent once he cleared waivers. To create a roster spot for Stojakovic – who had almost immediately committed to the Mavericks – Dallas agreed to send the Raptors the 7-foot Ajinca, a future second-round pick and cash to Toronto for the rights to Georgios Printezis.

When reached by email on Friday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban denied there had been an illegal prearranged deal.

Ajinca cleared the roster spot necessary for Stojakovic to sign with Dallas, but what’s considered against NBA rules would be a previously arranged buyout and promise to sign with Dallas coupled with Ajinca’s trade. Several other West contenders also were interested in signing Stojakovic.

“We did not protest it, but it was clearly a side-arranged deal which is not supposed to be allowed,” one Western Conference executive told Yahoo! Sports.

Said one Eastern Conference executive: “I’m not surprised they’ve held it up. They made it too obvious.”