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:
Attorneys for Donald Sterling will argue that wife Shelly Sterling exerted undue influence on one of the two doctors who examined Donald and declared him mentally incompetent, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com details. Donald’s mental competency is no longer on trial. Instead, the probate trial between the Sterlings will center on whether Shelly followed the rules of the Sterling family trust, according to Shelburne. Those rules required that two mental health experts submit letters to the effect that Donald was mentally incompetent before allowing Shelly to take full control of the trust, Shelburne writes. Shelly agreed to sell the Clippers in May to Steve Ballmer, claiming that she fully controlled the trust, but Donald is fighting the sale. Here’s more from around the league:
- The Spurs kept Tony Parker through Monday, unsurprisingly, but doing so means his $3.5MM partial guarantee is now a fully guaranteed $12.5MM salary for 2014/15.
- Jamal Crawford of the Clippers had his $1.5MM partial guarantee bumped to a full guarantee of $5.45MM when he remained on the roster through Monday.
- Kosta Koufos remains on the Grizzlies, so his $500K partial guarantee is now a $3MM full guarantee.
- Parker’s teammate Austin Daye is also still with the Spurs, so his $250K partial guarantee is a fully guaranteed minimum salary.
- The Hornets kept Jeffery Taylor around, so his minimum salary went from non-guaranteed to fully guaranteed.
- It appears as though the Magic are officially under the cap, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That means Orlando loses access to a $6,077,280 trade exception it could have reaped from last week’s Arron Afflalo deal.
- The Hawks didn’t give big man Gustavo Ayon a qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline, making him an unrestricted free agent, notes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). There weren’t reports of qualifying offers to James Southerland of the Pelicans, Adonis Thomas of the Sixers and Bernard James of the Mavs, so presumably they’re all unrestricted free agents as well.
- The Wolves hired Ryan Saunders as an assistant coach, the team announced (on Twitter). Saunders, the son of Wolves head coach/executive Flip Saunders, had served the last five seasons as a Wizards assistant.
Donald Sterling has kept a low profile since NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned him for life and fined him $2.5MM on Tuesday. Sterling broke his silence in an interview with DuJour.com, saying, “I wish I had just paid her [V. Stiviano] off.” Stiviano, in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, characterized Sterling’s current state of mind as “confused,” adding, “I think he feels very alone, not truly supported by those around him. Tormented, emotionally traumatized” (link via ESPN.com).
More from out west:
- On Friday morning, Clippers coach Doc Rivers met with team employees who were still upset and angry several days after Sterling was banned for life from the NBA, writes Greg Beachum of The Associated Press. According to the article, Rivers said employees on the team’s business side considered not working for the franchise after Sterling’s racist comments were exposed. Rivers also was quoted as saying, “What I witnessed today, you realize this thing has touched a lot of people. The people that didn’t do anything are being harmed by this, and I wish we could find the right solution, and I don’t have it.”
- Bernard James, the player representative for the Mavericks, hopes the NBA forces Sterling to sell the team, but he also thinks the owners are on a “slippery slope,” writes Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. James said, “I’m sure morally, most of them don’t agree with what Sterling said. But them voting for him to lose his team is hard for a lot of owners. And a lot of them are scared that maybe if I (the owner) do something, or I mess up or say something, or be caught on video doing something I shouldn’t be doing, if it comes to a vote they could take my team. And this would set a precedent for it.’’
- The Lakers search for a new head coach just adds to the uncertainty about the franchise’s future, writes Mark Lamport-Stokes of The New York Times. This is in addition to 12 of the 15 players on the roster expected to become free agents this summer, notes Lamport-Stokes.