When the Mavericks announced their final cuts in advance of Tuesday’s regular season opener against the defending champion Spurs, one name on the list was a bit of a surprise.
Bernard James, Doron Lamb and Ivan Johnson were the odd men out, but James had a $915,243 contract for the upcoming season, almost all of which was guaranteed.
Mark Cuban said he wouldn’t be afraid to eat a guaranteed deal if he felt another player was more deserving of that roster spot, and he was true to his word, choosing Charlie Villanueva and the scoring he could potentially provide as a replacement for James.
In an Oct. 12 game against Indiana, Villanueva played all 11 of his minutes in the fourth quarter and contributed 16 points and four rebounds during the Mavs’ 106-98 victory.
In that game Villanueva was 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line.
Even owner Mark Cuban, who repeatedly said he would eat a guaranteed contract if it made his team better, was impressed with what Villanueva accomplished against the Pacers.
“He’s been instant offense,” Cuban said. “When you score 16 points in a quarter on like eight shots, that’s ridiculous. In the NBA anybody can get hot. But that’s who he is.”
Villanueva’s deal is for $1.3 million, but is non-guaranteed, so if he ends up not being of value down the road, it may not ultimately cost the Mavericks that much.
But it’s nice to see a team choosing performance over finances, even if this is only a small example of that.