The Cleveland Cavaliers were close to cutting scrappy Australian guard in 2013 after disastrous performances in the NBA summer league and during the team's training camp, according to a report from ESPN.com.
Former Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant was eager to sign Dellavedova after he went undrafted. Grant had observed Dellavedova during his playing days at Saint Mary's College when his son was considering attending the school on a basketball scholarship.
Cleveland outbid the New York Knicks for his services, offering him $100,000 over two years. But once Dellavedova joined the team, Grant went from being one of the Aussie's many supporters to the man who helped save his job.
From the ESPN.com report:
Then summer league started. The stories have grown in the two years since, but generally all agree Dellavedova was horrible from the first practice onward and only marginally improved over the two weeks in Las Vegas. The Cavs will never admit it, but they must have wondered if they'd flushed $100,000 down the drain for a player who didn't look like he'd be able to cut it at the next level.
It didn't get much better in the preseason, with it appearing at times that Dellavedova might be headed for the waiver wire. That included one dreadful night in Cincinnati against John Wall when Dellavedova had six turnovers in one quarter.
There were those in the organization that did want Dellavedova cut despite the moderate investment in him. But Grant believed in Dellavedova and his potential. He liked his temperament and thought his constant aggression, at the very least, would push young star Kyrie Irving in practices.
When they had to make the last cut, Grant made the call and decided to keep him.
Now, the Cavaliers' $50,000-a-year player is teamed up with the NBA's biggest star, LeBron James, who also signed a two-year deal with the team - worth an average of $21 million a year.
Dellavedova scored 20 points in Tuesday night's Game 3, helping lead the team to a victory over Golden State and a 2–1 series lead.
Cleveland faces Golden State at Quicken Loans Arena Thursday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
- Will Green