OKLAHOMA CITY – Amid a lot of fanfare, Amar’e Stoudemire went through his first shootaround with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday morning at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
However, the Mavs’ newest member will not play tonight at 7 when Dallas (36-19) takes on the Oklahoma City Thunder (28-25).
Coach Rick Carlisle also said Stoudemire will sit out Friday’s home game against Houston and will not play his first game with the Mavs until they face Charlotte at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at American Airlines Center. Carlisle added that there are no concerns with the health of Stoudemire, who is 32 years old and has endured an injury-riddled career.
"His health is good,’’ Carlisle said after Thursday’s shootaround. "It was a long All-Star break.
"We just need some time to get him acclimated before we put him out there.’’
Stoudemire is expected to get the lion’s share of the backup minutes behind center Tyson Chandler, although he can spell power forward Dirk Nowitzki if the situation warranted it. But as of now, the Mavs don’t have any specific expectations of the 13-year veteran.
"I’m not going to throw any numbers out,’’ Carlisle said. "This is going to be a work in progress until he’s fully integrated.
"I expect it to be sooner than later, but you don’t know for sure. Sometimes it takes a little longer, sometimes it doesn’t.’’
Stoudemire, who took a buyout from the New York Knicks on Monday and signed with the Mavs on Wednesday for $485,670 for the remainder of this season, doesn’t have a problem with sitting out the ensuing two games. He figures it buys him some valuable time to get used to his new surroundings and learn the plays and the nuances of his new teammates.
"It just takes a little time to get acclimated,’’ Stoudemire said. "I want to make sure I’m sharp and ready to go from the start.
"I feel two days is always great to learn the offense, learn the defensive strategies and get more acclimated with the team and go from there.’’
After a lot of soul-searching, Stoudemire believes signing with the Mavs was the ideal situation for him and where he’s at during this point in his career.
"I thought the Mavericks have a great organization, a well-built team and (ready) to compete for a championship,’’ Stoudemire said. "I had a lot of long nights in thinking this through right before making this decision, but I feel like it’s the best for me.
"With the coaching staff they have here, and also the players, I think it’ll be a great fit for me. Being able to be a versatile big for them coming off the bench adds an element to the team, I think, that’ll be beneficial, so I feel positive about the situation.’’
Nowitzki acknowledged that Stoudemire can fill the void the Mavs lost when they included Brandan Wright in the Dec. 18 trade with Boston that brought Rajon Rondo from the Celtics.
"It’s not a secret we’ve been looking for a big ever since we lost B-Wright,’’ Nowitzki said. "I think this is exactly what we’ve been looking for, what we’ve been hoping for when we traded B-Wright.
"I think he can still finish above the rim and in the paint, but he can also pick-and-pop now out to 17 feet. I think he’s going to be great for us.’’
In addition to helping Chandler get some ample rest, the Mavs are hoping Stoudemire will be able to help them become a better rebounding team, while also giving them some adequate production on the offensive end of the court.
"The good thing is we have a lot of bigs now that we can rotate in and out,’’ Nowitzki said. "We want him to come in there and play hard, give us some scoring punch off the bench, give us some rebounding.
"I think he’s a very good defensive rebounder. That’s a category we can always use help in. I think he’s going to be a tremendous help on our front line.’’
Stoudemire is definitely anxious to get started – now that he’s away from the Knicks -- and show the Mavs how he’ll be able to contribute.
"I’m truly blessed to be able to make that type of decision to be a part of a team that’s competing for a championship,’’ Stoudemire said. "So I’m taking full advantage of this and making sure I get myself in top shape and ready to go.
"This is a very exciting time for myself and also my family.’’