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.
We may be no longer in the early stages of free agency, but teams continue to clear cap space by renouncing their Non-Bird, Early Bird or full Bird rights to their own free agents to remove their cap holds from the books. Teams that renounce those rights no longer have the ability to exceed the cap to re-sign those players unless they use an exception like the mid-level or the biannual. Some of those decisions are more notable than others, but for completion’s sake, we’ll track the latest of these cap-clearing moves right here:
- The Bulls have renounced their rights to Daequan Cook, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nazr Mohammed, Brian Scalabrine and Jimmer Fredette, reports Mark Deeks of Sham Sports (via Twitter).
- The Mavericks have expunged the cap hold of Petteri Koponen and renounced their rights to Bernard James, reports Deeks (via Twitter).
- The Lakers have renounced their rights to MarShon Brooks and Andrew Goudelock, according to Deeks (via Twitter).
- The Lakers have also renounced the rights to John Salley, Karl Malone, Brian Shaw and other players not on the team last season, according to ESPN salary cap guru Larry Coon (via Twitter).
- As Coon explains, the old CBA allowed Bird rights of players not on a team the previous year to be used in sign-and-trades. With that no longer the case under the current CBA, the rights to players like Salley, Malone and Shaw are no longer useful. The teams must still go through the formality of renouncing the rights, but tend not to do so until they actually need the cap space which, like in this case, could be years later (Twitter links are here).
- With Salley’s rights renounced, Coon believes the oldest Bird rights still on the books might be Roshown McLeod with the Celtics (Twitter link).
Here’s what we’ve gathered out of the Southwest Division:
- It’s widely suspected around the league that Dan Fegan insisted that the Rockets turn down their team option on Chandler Parsons before he would allow fellow client Dwight Howard to sign in Houston last summer, Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Parsons strongly denied knowing of such a deal, notes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
- On Monday, Parsons told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports that he wasn’t thrilled with how the Rockets handled his restricted free agency. “…I was offended by the whole process…(Houston) publicly said that they were going out looking for a third star when I thought they had one right in front of them. I guess that’s just how they viewed me as a player. I don’t think I’ve scratched the surface of where I can be as a player and I think I’m ready for that role.”
- Today, Parsons said he was surprised about the backlash he received by making those comments. While he didn’t back off from what he said, Parsons also cited that he praised Rockets GM Daryl Morey (Twitter link from Feigen).
- On Monday, Mavericks president Donnie Nelson told Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the team may not be done tweaking their roster. “We’re not done…But we feel pretty good about where things are right now.” Following the team’s addition of Rashard Lewis today, Price reminds that Nelson plans to keep one of the team’s final two roster spots open for flexibility down the line (Twitter link).
- In the former piece, Price mentions also Al-Farouq Aminu, Bernard James, Shawn Marion, and Ivan Johnson as other names that Dallas could attempt to add before the start of next season.
- Nelson sat down for an interview with KESN-FM 103.3 to offer some insight on how the Mavs plan to approach the rest of the season (transcription via SportsDayDFW) and mentioned that the team is always keeping its eye out for a shooter. It’s worth noting that he said this before they added Lewis, however.
- While they won’t close the door on re-signing Marion, Nelson acknowledges that the veteran forward’s value in the marketplace is much higher than what the Mavs can afford.
- The Spurs still hope to retain restricted free agent center Aron Baynes, tweets Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Young adds that San Antonio is willing to match any reasonable offer.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Rockets and the Mavericks are interested in Mike Miller, reports Mark Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Nuggets have the best financial offer on the table for Miller, but Dallas, Houston, and the Cavaliers offer him a better chance to play for a winner, tweets Stein.
More from out west:
- The Pelicans extended a two-year contract offer to undrafted free agent center Patric Young, reports David Pick of Eurobasket (Twitter link).
- In addition to the Rockets and Heat, Chris Bosh was also being pursued by the Nuggets, Suns, and Lakers, notes Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com. On why he chose to re-sign with Miami, Bosh said, “There were very enticing offers. There was some surprising advances made in everything, but I ultimately decided to stay in Miami. I think it was the right choice. I benefit from it, the team will benefit from it, from here. My heart was in Miami. I wanted to be there and keep my family there and build relationships and really keep building on something special.“
- It was a long road for P.J. Tucker, but the hard work paid off with his new contract with the Suns, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic.
- Mavericks‘ president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson would like to re-sign free agent center Bernard James, tweets Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Nelson said, “We love to be able to have Sarge [James] back because of his shot blocking.” James averaged 0.3 BPG in 30 games last season for Dallas.
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban suggested that Chandler Parsons was the team’s top free agent target all along, writes Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com. Cuban said, “I looked at all the main guys that were young that we thought would be available and we loved his game. We liked him the best of all the free agents and that was point one.” In the article Cuban also said that if he was in the Rockets position, he would have matched their offer sheet on Parsons.
The Pacers organization is presenting a united in front in their attempts to convince Lance Stephenson to re-sign with Indiana, reports Michael Marot of The Associated Press. Indy brass, coaches, and players are hopeful they can challenge again in the East with Stephenson back aboard now that LeBron James has fled Miami. Here are more of the night’s free agency rumblings: