The Mavericks have re-signed Bernard James to a contract that covers the balance of the season, as Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets and as the team announced via press release. The news is no surprise, since Mavs owner Mark Cuban said even before the club’s second 10-day contract with James was official that he would eventually sign him for the rest of the season. That second 10-day pact expired Monday. Neither the team nor Sneed indicate that it’s a multiyear pact, which suggests that it doesn’t contain any non-guaranteed salary for next season as such contracts often do.
The move locks Dallas into 15 contracts that run until at least season’s end, so the team would have to eat one of them to make another signing. So, that likely precludes any lingering chance that Jermaine O’Neal would join the team, and the Mavs don’t appear likely to end up with JaVale McGee, either.
Of course, Dallas didn’t mind taking the full hit for James’ guaranteed full-season minimum salary when the Mavs waived him at the end of the preseason to make room for Charlie Villanueva, who was then on a non-guaranteed pact. Still, James, a 30-year-old former Air Force Air Force staff sergeant, filled a prominent role for the banged-up Mavs on his 10-day deals, averaging 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game across five appearances, two of them starts. That’s significantly more minutes a night than the Happy Walters client saw in either of his first two seasons in the NBA, both of which were with the Mavs.
SATURDAY, 11:17am: The second 10-day signing is official, Dallas announced in a press release.
11:21pm: Mavs owner Mark Cuban said the team intends to sign James to a second 10-day deal, and then for the remainder of the season once that pact expires, Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.
THURSDAY, 1:15pm: The Mavericks have reached agreement on a second 10-day contract with center Bernard James, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). James’ current 10-day deal is scheduled to expire on Saturday.
James had been playing with the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks since shortly after the Mavs waived him at the end of the preseason, but the Sharks failed to make the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs, allowing the 30-year-old big man to become a free agent and circle back to Dallas.
James recently told Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News that the time he spent overseas with the Sharks made him a better player.
“It was huge,” James said. “It kind of got me back to feeling like myself again. I’m not hesitating. I’m believing in my game. It was good to play major minutes and having a team really rely on me.“
James appeared in one game for the Mavs before the All-Star break, scoring 9 points and grabbing 3 boards against the Jazz.
Despite having desirable veteran trade assets in Thaddeus Young and Kevin Martin, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders isn’t actively looking to make more deals before the February 19th trade deadline, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. Saunders is willing to listen to offers, but he said that the team now has plenty of competition for playing time at every position, and the Wolves are focused on trying to get their current roster settled, Zgoda adds.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Kevin Murphy, who was in training camp with the Jazz this season, is considering returning to the Idaho Stampede, Utah’s D-League affiliate, David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter link). Murphy had been playing in China for Zhejiang Guangsha, whose regular season has just concluded.
- The Suns are expected to discuss a deal with Alec Brown, their 2014 second round draft pick, to join the team for the 2015/16 campaign, Shams Charania of RealGM.com reports. Brown has been rehabilitating a dislocated shoulder that he suffered during summer league play in Las Vegas. The big man is set to join the Bakersfield Jam, Phoenix’s D-League affiliate, next week, Charania notes.
- Bernard James, who was recently inked to a 10-day deal with the Mavericks, believes that his time spent with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association made him a better player, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. “It was huge,” James said of playing overseas. “It kind of got me back to feeling like myself again. I’m not hesitating. I’m believing in my game. It was good to play major minutes and having a team really rely on me.“
- Some NBA executives aren’t dismissing the idea of George Karl retaining Tyrone Corbin as an assistant on his coaching staff with the Kings, Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times reports (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 10:20am: The deal is official, as Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets. It’ll run just the standard 10 days, since the Mavs have a game tonight and return from the All-Star break with a back-to-back on December 19th and 20th, fulfilling the three-game requirement.
TUESDAY, 8:09am: The Mavericks will sign Bernard James to a 10-day contract once he receives his FIBA letter of clearance to make the jump back from China, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. James had been playing with the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks since shortly after the Mavs waived him at the end of the preseason, but the Sharks failed to make the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs, allowing the 30-year-old big man to become a free agent last week. The FIBA letter of clearance is a standard procedural step that players go through when they move between countries, and it’s unlikely that it serves as a stumbling block.
Stein and ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon reported this past weekend that Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and company would seek to add a big man on a 10-day contract while they waited for Jermaine O’Neal, for whom Dallas is by all accounts the front-runner, to ready himself to play. The Mavs have an open roster spot, as our roster counts show, though the team is prepared to clear a second spot to add Amar’e Stoudemire if he works a buyout with the Knicks, as Stein and MacMahon wrote.
James, who turned 30 this past weekend, played the previous two seasons with Dallas, which first acquired the rights to the former Air Force staff sergeant the same night that Cleveland drafted him 33rd overall in 2012. James averaged just 4.9 minutes per game across 30 appearances last season after he started 11 games as a rookie, but Dallas saw fit to re-sign him to a fully guaranteed contract for the minimum salary this past summer. That commitment bit the team in October, when non-guaranteed camp invitee Charlie Villanueva beat James out for a spot on the opening-night roster. James proceeded to put up 19.1 points and 11.2 rebounds in 30.0 minutes per game for Shanghai.
The 10-day contract that James signs with the Mavs might last longer than 10 days depending on when he signs it. All 10-day deals must cover at least three games, a rule that normally doesn’t come into play. However, with the expanded All-Star break this year, it would last 11 days if James signed either today or on Thursday.
FRIDAY, 8:04am: James has officially signed with the Shanghai Sharks, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Enea Trapani).
WEDNESDAY, 9:45pm: James has indeed signed a deal to play in China, Sefko reports. Eduardo Najera, James’ coach with the Texas Legends, has also confirmed that James has left the team and is on his way to China, though the team that inked James is still unknown, Sefko adds.
12:34pm: Former Mavs center Bernard James is set to play in China, reports Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). The identity of the team the Happy Walters client is joining is unclear, as are the terms of the deal. James, whom the Mavs cut before the season began, had been playing for the Mavs D-League affiliate after Dallas retained his D-League rights.
James re-signed with Dallas in September on a guaranteed one-year deal for the minimum salary, and he was presumably in line to reprise the backup big man role he had played for the Mavs the previous two seasons. However, the resurgence of training camp invitee Charlie Villanueva during the preseason helped push the 29-year-old James out, and Dallas decided to eat his guaranteed salary and keep Villanueva on his non-guaranteed pact. James, a former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant, is averaging 11.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in two D-League appearances so far.
The Mavs might be in line to recoup a portion of the $915,243 they owe him this year if James’ Chinese deal is lucrative enough to trigger set-off rights. A similar scenario is at play should Gal Mekel, whom the Mavs also let go in spite of a guaranteed contract, wins a spot with the Lakers after his tryout this week.
Not surprisingly, three of the NBA’s four unbeaten teams reside in the Western Conference, where the Warriors, Rockets and Grizzlies are all 3-0. The East’s lone unbeaten is the franchise that’s won the last four conference championships, but it’s nonetheless surprising to see the Heat back atop the conference standings after they lost LeBron James this past summer. While we wait to see if Miami will continue to reign without King James, here’s the latest from around the league:
- The Cavs feel like they made concessions in their final extension offer to Tristan Thompson, which exceeded $48MM over four years, but neither side has any hard feelings in the wake of the failed negotiations, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
- NBA teams kept the D-League rights to 47 players cut during camp this year, the D-League announced, listing all of them. The Mavs, Warriors and Suns used all four spots available to each NBA team to reserve the rights to such players, so they can’t keep the D-League rights to anyone they waive during the regular season, unlike the rest of the teams in the NBA. Renaldo Balkman, Bernard James, Doron Lamb, Hasheem Thabeet, Peyton Siva, Malcolm Lee and Earl Barron are this year’s “affiliate players” with NBA experience.
- Garrett Temple refrains from drinking, smoking and tattoos, and he’s convinced the straight-arrow approach has helped him win jobs during his career, as Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post observes. Injuries to others have thrust Temple into the starting lineup for the Wizards, who re-signed him this summer for two years at the minimum salary.
The Mavericks have officially waived Bernard James, Ivan Johnson, and Doron Lamb, the team has announced. These moves bring Dallas’ preseason roster count down to the league maximum 15, so no further roster moves would be required prior to beginning the regular season. This also means that Charlie Villanueva and his non-guaranteed contract is likely to make the regular season roster, though that’s just my speculation.
James’ contract was fully guaranteed for $915,243, and the team has reportedly looking to trade the center, but apparently no takers were found. Lamb’s deal came with no guarantee, but Johnson’s contract included a partial guarantee of $25K, which the Mavs will be responsible to pay.
It’s not clear if the team will look to send any of these players to the NBA D-League at this time. Teams can retain the D-League rights for up to four players. Lamb would seem to be the most likely of the bunch for Dallas to try and develop down in the D-League, seeing as he’s the youngest of the players that were waived, and has the most potential upside.
The Mavs are trying to find trade partners who’ll take center Bernard James and point guard Gal Mekel, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Both are on fully guaranteed contracts. Dallas wants to carry fewer than 15 players on opening night, Spears adds, and finding another team to take on Mekel, James or both without sending guaranteed salary in return would allow the Mavs to open space on their regular season roster without having to waive guaranteed salaries. Of course, the Mavs can’t trade James until December 15th, since he signed a new contract this summer.
There’s another hurdle to trading James, since he can’t be traded without his consent. Any player who’s traded after re-signing with his team for just one year, as James did this summer, loses his Bird rights. The Mavs could remind James and agent Happy Walters that if they waive him and he clears waivers, his Bird rights would also disappear that way, though that would force Dallas to eat his guaranteed minimum salary for this season. Dallas prioritized re-signing the 29-year-old former 33rd overall pick this summer as GM Donnie Nelson pointed to his shot-blocking as a reason why, but fellow Mavs centers Tyson Chandler, Brandan Wright and Greg Smith all have guaranteed contracts, too.
Mekel’s minimum salaries are guaranteed for this season as well as 2015/16. The 26-year-old didn’t see much playing time as a rookie last year, averaging 9.4 minutes per game over just 31 appearances, and he wouldn’t appear to be in line for significantly more burn this season on a Mavs roster that has no shortage of point guards.
The notion that Dallas is looking to preserve open roster spots for the regular season is an ominous sign for Ivan Johnson and Eric Griffin, who have small partial guarantees with the club, and Charlie Villanueva, who’s impressed while on a non-guaranteed deal this month. Coach Rick Carlisle has suggested that owner Mark Cuban wouldn’t hesitate to waive a guaranteed contract to keep Villanueva if the veteran power forward continues his strong play, but it appears Cuban has other plans. Dallas can keep as few as 13 players on the roster during the regular season. The last time the team opened without the maximum 15 guys was in 2011/12, as I examined last month.
6:00pm: The deal is official, the team announced.
4:20pm: The Mavs have re-signed Bernard James, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com announced (on Twitter). Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported a couple of weeks ago that the team was finalizing a one-year deal for the minimum salary with the two-year veteran center. It’s likely a fully guaranteed arrangement, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com wrote.
James saw reduced playing time this past season after seeing nearly 10 minutes a game as a rookie. He averaged less than a point in 4.9 minutes per contest in 2013/14, though he was an effective rebounder when he did see the floor, grabbing 10.4 boards per 36 minutes. The 33rd pick from the 2012 draft was a U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant before finishing his college career at Florida State.
The addition of the Happy Walters client gives Dallas 17 players, 15 of whom have guaranteed deals, presuming James’s contract is guaranteed. That spells trouble for Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson, both of whom have only partial guarantees on their minimum-salary pacts.
FRIDAY, 8:20am: The impending deal for James will be fully guaranteed, a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. That would give the team 15 fully guaranteed pacts to go with the partially guaranteed arrangements for Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson, as MacMahon points out.
THURSDAY, 11:20am: The Mavericks are close to re-signing center Bernard James, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter). According to Stein, the team is finalizing a one-year deal for the minimum salary to bring back the 29-year-old for his third season in Dallas. Assuming the deal is finalized, James should receive the two-year veteran’s minimum worth $915,243.
While the Mavs didn’t extend him a qualifying offer by the June 30 deadline, there were multiple reports that suggested the team was interested in bringing James back. The Florida State product backed up Samuel Dalembert at center last season in Dallas, averaging 0.9 points and 0.3 blocks in 4.9 minutes per game. He is likely to fill a similar role in 2014/15.