The overwhelming sense in Toronto, according to multiple parties consulted, is that Peja Stojakovic is more likely to leave the Raptors by trade rather than buyout before the deadline.
At least that's the Raps' plan.
Yet if no follow-up swap materializes before Feb. 24 involving Stojakovic's $15 million expiring contract, he's a virtual lock to be bought out by the Raps before March 1, which would enable Peja to take his forever-accurate J J -- Dallas watched him ring up a quick 17 points in just 19 minutes this month -- to the contender of his choosing for the stretch run.
Raptors president Bryan Colangelo has already publicly acknowledged the buyout scenario and left the clear impression that he'll work with Stojakovic on a mutually beneficial parting when the time comes. One of the likely reasons: Without Stojakovic's cooperation in waiving $437,470 of a $1,215,953 trade kicker to make the salary-cap math work in the deal with New Orleans co-headlined by Jarrett Jack, Toronto couldn't have completed a trade that brought young Jerryd Bayless to Canada ... and finally rid the Raptors of Marcus Banks.
League rules on trade kickers only allowed Stojakovic to surrender the exact amount required to make the trade legal, but it was still a six-figure sacrifice that otherwise could have scuttled the deal.
The Serbian sharpshooter, furthermore, is determined to stay in the NBA for two or three more seasons after this one, according to agent David Baumann, despite the persistent wishful thinking from European teams about luring the 33-year-old back to their shores.
And a buyout, frankly, is possible even if Peja gets traded again, depending on the state of the team that acquires him. It's not hard to imagine, should Peja shake loose, more than a few top teams trying to woo him in March when veteran shooters and big men who become in-season free agents are hot commodities.