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How Charlie Villanueva rejuvenated his career with the Mavericks

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Charlie V was only ever a bench piece, but his shooting won Dallas a few games here and there on his way to a successful season.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Looking back

When reports surfaced in early September that the Dallas Mavericks were interested in signing Charlie Villanueva to the training camp roster, it was met with a collective shoulder shrug. The then nine-year veteran was coming off a massive five-year deal with the Detroit Pistons where he was ineffective at first and eventually marginalized to the bench. The training camp invite felt like a favor done by Donnie Nelson to Villanueva's agent, to be repaid down the line.

Then something silly happened. Charlie V came out in preseason with a flamethrower, gunning shots off the bench at an impressive rate. He connected at such a rate (38.5 percent from 3) during preseason contests to raise more than a few eyebrows. With Dallas concerned about team 3-point shooting, Villanueva quickly made the case for an actual roster spot. The front office signed Villanueva to a year long deal at the expense of Bernard James just before opening day.

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Villanueva spent most of the first two months of the season glued to the bench. With the light schedule and a reasonable rotation, Rick Carlisle had little reason to reach beyond his initial rotation. After the trade for Rajon Rondo, Charlie V became one of many options Dallas attempted to use to fill minutes in the power forward rotation. In his 64 games played, Charlie averaged 11 minutes, 6 points, and hit just under 38 percent of his 3-point shots. He was the classic bench gunner, managing to get up nearly six shots per game in limited action.

That Rick Carlisle was forced to play Villanueva, Jefferson, and even Raymond Felton rotation minutes in the second half of the season is fairly indicative of the entire Maverick season. Charlie V played admirably in a role he never should have had.

At least he finally played in a playoff game. Prior to the Houston series, Villanueva's streak of 594 regular season games was the most played by an active player who had not yet reached the playoffs. It took 10 years, but he finally got to the postseason.

Contract status: Charlie Villanueva is a free agent. He has indicated that he wants to come back to the Mavericks.

Looking ahead

Of course he wants to come back to the Mavericks. Considering that Villanueva had nearly played himself out of the league (or, rather, not played himself out of the league. He missed 130 games between 2012 and 2014), Villanueva played well as the Mavericks emergency gunner off the bench. He's certainly not a sixth man (or seventh, eighth, or even eleventh man), but his shooting ability paired with his size should result in continued employment in the NBA.

Whether or not that means playing for the Dallas Mavericks is another story. With only five players under contract next season, the front office has it's work cut out for them already. Unless Charlie Villanueva is willing to wait on the front office, I'd fully expect him to move on to other employment opportunities as quickly as possible.

It's been nice having him on the Mavericks. He helped make a challenging Maverick season a lot more enjoyable.

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