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.