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Villanueva trying to carve out spot with Mavericks

No one will blame Charlie Villanueva if he was a bit on edge this week.

After all, he has a lot riding on what happens over the next seven days.

Villanueva has a nonguaranteed contract with the Dallas Mavericks. But as productive as the 6-foot-11 power forward has been during this preseason, he still has no idea if he’ll make the Mavs’ 15-man roster to open the season.

And he likely won’t know until Oct. 27, the day all 30 teams have to turn in their roster to the NBA. That makes for an uneasy week for Villanueva.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking, but at the same time those are things I can’t control,” Villanueva said. “The only thing I can control is my effort and just paying attention to detail and going out there and trying to contribute in wins.”

“So that’s what I’m focusing on right now, and then I’ll let things fall into place.”

The Mavs, who host Memphis at 7:30 p.m. Monday at American Airlines Center, signed Villanueva to a one-year free-agent contract after he spent five star-crossed seasons with the Detroit Pistons.

“He’s the prototype of what we like,’’ owner Mark Cuban said. “A guy who was in a difficult situation and got a bad rap, but when you do your homework he’s really a good guy.

“He’s great in the locker room, guys love him and he’s putting on a battle for that last spot.”

It’s a battle Villanueva apparently has a great shot at winning.

He just wants the suspense to be over, because his wife and two children, ages 5 and 6, are waiting for word in Michigan.

“I’m staying at a hotel right now, so I kind of want to get situated,” Villanueva said. “I’ve got my family out in Michigan and I still haven’t really given them the word on what’s going on.

“So I kind of want to know what’s going on just so I can take care of stuff like that, finding a place or bringing down my family. I’m eager to know that sooner than later. I’m living out of two bags.’’

Villanueva is one of the backups to Dirk Nowitzki at the stretch-four position. So far he has proven he’s capable of producing while giving Nowitzki a breather.

“His role is to be ready to go in the game and pull the trigger when he gets a chance,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Villanueva. “I don’t think we’re at the point yet where there are specific defined roles. There will be.

“But he’s done a good job to this point, as have a lot of guys.”

In the Oct. 12 preseason game against the Indiana Pacers, Villanueva played all 11 of his minutes in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points and four rebounds. He was 6 of 8 from the field, including 4 of 6 on 3-point shots.

“He’s been instant offense,” Cuban said. “He scored 16 points in a quarter on like eight shots.

“In the NBA anybody can get hot, but that’s who he is, that’s who he’s always been. He comes in ready.”

Being able to study from a player of Nowitzki’s caliber has been a bonus for Villanueva. It keeps him ready to learn from one of the game’s best players.

“He’s not a quick guy at all, but he’s still effective and I’m definitely learning from him,” Villanueva, 30, said of Nowitzki. “I’m not getting any younger myself, so watching him is definitely helping me.

“He’s still playing at a high level at age 36, and it’s just fascinating to watch. I’m glad I’m a part of it for now.”

Villanueva just wants to be a part of it for the remainder of the season.

Grizzlies at Mavericks

7:30 p.m. Monday, American Airlines Center, Dallas

Records: Mavericks 2-3, Grizzlies 2-3


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