One of the strangest careers in Mavericks history came to a close Friday when Tariq Abdul-Wahad was waived amid jokes that most people thought it had happened two years ago.
The Frenchman had not seen action since the 2003 playoffs, when he rarely played and was kept on the playoff roster instead of a point guard named Avery Johnson.
That was Abdul-Wahad's biggest contribution in four seasons with the Mavericks. The 6-6 swingman played 18 regular-season games and eight in the playoffs, but spent far more time being a headache to the organization.
"The point guard was mad then," Johnson said Friday of being left off the playoff roster in '03. "But now, what a blessing for Nellie [former coach Don Nelson] to put me on the staff. It lit more of a match in me to coach."
Owner Mark Cuban said the relationship with Abdul-Wahad "wasn't pleasant" for the Mavericks. That's an understatement. The team claimed Abdul-Wahad could not play because of a knee injury. Abdul-Wahad thought he was healthy enough. The argument was never settled and Abdul-Wahad spent much of the last two seasons in France.
"He wasn't a key factor at any point," assistant coach Del Harris said. "That knee is a tough injury. We never felt he got to a position where he could play. He expressed a will to play. But that same injury has been so difficult on [Jamal] Mashburn and [Penny] Hardaway. It's just a tough injury. We never felt like he could play with that."
Abdul-Wahad refused to work with the Mavericks for a buyout of his remaining contract. As such, he will be paid the guaranteed portion for the next two seasons, $3.656 million this season and $1.968 million in 2006-07. Only half his contract was guaranteed this season with one-fourth guaranteed next season.