Justin James

Cavs Notes: Davis, James, Rubio, Garland, Rotation

The Cavaliers‘ signing of Ed Davis on Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise, given the timing of the move and the fact that Cleveland already has a good amount of frontcourt depth. However, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff pushed for the addition of Davis, who is considered one of the NBA’s best locker-room presences and mentors.

Davis’ one-year, minimum-salary contract is non-guaranteed, per Fedor. However, the expectation is that the veteran center will be part of the Cavaliers’ 15-man roster to start the regular season.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Justin James, who also signed with the Cavs on Wednesday, will likely play in the team’s preseason finale on Friday and will get a chance to earn one of the team’s open two-way slots, says Fedor. If James doesn’t get a two-way contract, he could still become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge.
  • In another story for Cleveland.com, Fedor takes an in-depth look at how the Cavaliers acquired Ricky Rubio early in the offseason and what role they expect him to play in 2021/22. Although Rubio won’t be part of the starting five, Bickerstaff will be counting on him for starter-type minutes, and one member of the organization told Fedor that he thinks the Spaniard will work his way into Cleveland’s closing five.
  • Fedor adds in the same story that Rubio has taken starting point guard Darius Garland “under his wing.” The two guards, whose lockers are next to each other, talk daily and watch film together, writes Fedor.
  • After indicating earlier this month that he planned on a 10-man rotation for the regular season, Bickerstaff now thinks the Cavs’ regular rotation could include just nine players, tweets Fedor. Bickerstaff believes the versatility of Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, along with his desire to have Rubio play starter minutes, reduces the need for a 10th regular.

Cavaliers Sign Ed Davis, Justin James

The Cavaliers have announced a pair of signings, stating in a press release that they’ve added big man Ed Davis and guard Justin James to their roster. Cleveland now has a full 20-man squad.

Davis, 32, spent the 2020/21 season with the Timberwolves, playing a limited role in the team’s frontcourt. The center averaged 2.1 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 23 games (13.0 MPG).

Davis, an 11-year veteran who has 691 career regular season games under his belt, isn’t the kind of player who typically gets signed and quickly waived this week for G League purposes, so it will be interesting to see what the Cavs’ plan for him is. The team only has 11 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so there’s room for Davis to make the 15-man regular season roster.

As for James, he spent his first two NBA seasons with the Kings after being selected 40th overall in the 2019 draft out of Wyoming. He didn’t play a regular role for Sacramento, but appeared in 72 games across two seasons, averaging 3.2 PPG and 0.9 RPG with a shooting line of .446/.343/.544 in 7.5 minutes per contest.

The 24-year-old was waived by the Kings earlier this offseason, signed a two-way deal with Utah, and then was released by the Jazz as well. The Cavs may view him as a potential affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge.

Jazz Release Justin James

The Jazz have waived swingman Justin James, the team announced today in a press release. James had been occupying one of Utah’s two-way slots.

James spent his first two NBA seasons with the Kings after being selected 40th overall in the 2019 draft out of Wyoming. He didn’t play a regular role for Sacramento, but appeared in 72 games across two seasons, averaging 3.2 PPG and 0.9 RPG with a shooting line of .446/.343/.544 in 7.5 minutes per contest. The 24-year-old was waived by the Kings earlier this offseason and signed a two-way deal with Utah last week.

The decision to waive James comes as a bit of a surprise, given how recently he was signed. If the Jazz had been aiming to secure his G League rights, they would’ve inked him to an Exhibit 10 contract, so perhaps the team had a change of heart about how it wants to fill its second two-way slot. Trent Forrest is Utah’s other two-way player.

With James on waivers, the Jazz now have 19 players under contract.

Jazz Sign Justin James To Two-Way Contract

The Jazz have filled their open two-way slot by signing free agent swingman Justin James to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

James, 24, spent his first two NBA seasons with the Kings after being selected 40th overall in the 2019 draft out of Wyoming. He didn’t play a regular role for Sacramento, but appeared in 72 games across two seasons, averaging 3.2 PPG and 0.9 RPG with a shooting line of .446/.343/.544 in 7.5 minutes per contest.

James’ contract with the Kings covered the 2021/22 season, but his salary for the coming year wasn’t guaranteed, giving the team the opportunity to waive him last month without being on the hook for any dead money.

In Utah, James will occupy the Jazz’s second two-way slot alongside Trent Forrest. With James under contract, the team is now carrying 18 players, including 13 on guaranteed deals and Miye Oni on a non-guaranteed contract. James, Forrest, and Exhibit 10 recipients MaCio Teague and Derrick Alston round out the current group. The Jazz have room for two more camp invitees if they so choose.

Justin James Released By Kings

Kings small forward Justin James has been waived by Sacramento, per Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Jones notes that today marked the deadline for James’ $1.78MM salary for the 2021/22 season to become fully guaranteed. Sacramento won’t be on the hook for that money, while James will now hit the market as an unrestricted free agent, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers.

James, 24, was selected by the Kings with the No. 40 pick in the 2019 draft out of Wyoming. James never quite carved out significant rotational time during his two seasons with the Kings. The 6’7″ wing holds NBA career averages of 3.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG, and 0.6 APG.

Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports that James was the odd man out in the club’s wing rotation. Elsewhere on the roster, the Kings did guarantee the next year for big man Damian Jones. They also partially guaranteed the deal for power forward Chimezie Metu.

Bucks’ Sign-And-Trade For Bogdanovic In Peril

The agreement between the Bucks and Kings that would send Bogdan Bogdanovic to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade is in peril, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who reports that there was never an agreement from Bogdanovic to join the Bucks.

That element of the deal has become a major issue, according to Amick, who hears from a high-ranking team official that it’s not clear whether the move will be completed when free agency opens. The deal, which was reported late on Monday night, would send Bogdanovic and Justin James to the Bucks in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova, D.J. Wilson, and Donte DiVincenzo.

It’s hard to know what to make of this update. As I pointed out on Monday night when the story broke, it’s very unusual for a deal that involves a free agent changing teams to be reported several days before free agency actually begins. The NBA’s tampering rules would technically prohibit the Bucks from having any contact with Bogdanovic before Friday, so on one hand, a miscommunication wouldn’t be a major surprise.

On the other hand, it’s very unlikely that the Bucks and Kings would have agreed to a deal involving five players and overlooked the fact that Bogdanovic wasn’t fully on board with it. If Bogdanovic never agreed, it’s also odd that there wasn’t any real pushback on Monday’s reporting until now.

As Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), it sounds like either someone “badly” messed up or the Kings and Bucks took heat from the NBA for leaking a deal involving a free agent well before the start of free agency and are now trying to walk it back.

Needless to say, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation this week to see if the Bucks, Kings, and Bogdanovic eventually work something out or if it falls apart entirely.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks To Acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic From Kings In Sign-And-Trade

UPDATE: This deal has fallen apart. Read the details here.


The Bucks will acquire restricted free agent swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Kings in a sign-and-trade deal once free agency opens, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Sources tell Wojnarowski that Milwaukee will send Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, and Ersan Ilyasova to Sacramento in the deal, while the Bucks will also receive forward Justin James from the Kings (Twitter links).

Multiple reports in recent weeks indicated that the Bucks had interest in Bogdanovic and would pursue him in a sign-and-trade scenario. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reiterated that interest tonight in the wake of Milwaukee’s agreement to acquire Jrue Holiday, tweeting that Bogdanovic was also being eyed by the Hawks.

Still, even in the wake of O’Connor’s report, we didn’t expect to learn so early in the week that the Kings and Bucks have already reached an agreement. Since Bogdanovic will technically be a free agent, he and Milwaukee aren’t supposed to have any contact until Friday, so the NBA likely won’t be thrilled that news of this deal has already leaked.

Bogdanovic enjoyed arguably the best season of his three-year NBA career in 2019/20, averaging 15.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 3.4 APG on .440/.372/.741 shooting in 61 contests (29.0 MPG). He earned a promotion to the starting lineup in January, displacing Buddy Hield, and helped lead the Kings to a 16-12 record during his 28 games as a starter.

Re-signing Bogdanovic was believed to be a priority for the Kings, so it’s a little surprising that the team is prepared to move him in a sign-and-trade deal. However, former general manager Vlade Divac seemed more committed to the 28-year-old Serbian than new GM Monte McNair.

The Kings’ willingness to move on from Bogdanovic is good news for the Bucks, who have reshaped their lineup with this move and the acquisition of Holiday, putting themselves in a great position to sell Giannis Antetokounmpo on signing a five-year, super-max contract extension this fall.

As for the Kings, they’re likely not viewing Ilyasova’s expiring $7MM contract as a major asset, and Wilson is coming off a disappointing third season. DiVincenzo is the headliner of their package, having averaged 9.2 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .455/.336/.733 in 66 games (23.0 MPG) last year for Milwaukee. He’s a strong perimeter defender who – at age 23 – still has plenty of room to improve and is under contract for two more years before reaching restricted free agency.

It’s not yet clear what Bogdanovic’s new contract with the Bucks will look like, but the deal must span at least three seasons, with a guaranteed first year. Based on Milwaukee’s outgoing salary, he could receive a starting salary of up to approximately $18MM, assuming Ilyasova’s salary becomes guaranteed. However, the Bucks will have to be conscious of the hard cap — as a result of acquiring a player via sign-and-trade, they’ll be unable to surpass a team salary of $138,928,000 in 2020/21.

The base year compensation rule will also apply to Bogdanovic’s new deal and will complicate salary-matching to some extent, though the inclusion of James should prevent it from becoming an issue for Sacramento.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

California Notes: MCW, Clippers, Kings, Smith, Waiters

The Warriors will need to consider free agent backup point guard candidates during their upcoming offseason. Since Golden State will be stretched thin due to some exorbitant contracts to the team’s top four players, The Athletic’s Anthony Slater makes the case for 28-year-old injury-prone non-shooter Michael Carter-Williams, an unrestricted free agent, on a league minimum.

Carter-Williams, a career 40.3% shooter from the floor (and a 25.6% shooter from deep), has logged time with the Sixers, Bucks, Bulls, Hornets, Rockets and Magic in his seven NBA seasons. Slater lauds the 6’5″ guard’s size and notes that his three-point shooting has improved with Orlando, adding that he was a +27 in his time on the floor during the Magic’s three road games, all wins, before the NBA season pause on March 11. For 2019/20, Carter-Williams is shooting a below-average 29.4% from long range, which would be his career-high over a full season.

There are more updates out of California:

  • The Clippers are using their practices in the NBA’s Disney World campus to fully integrate recent additions Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Joakim Noah, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. “It’s pretty much we know who we want to play, but as far as the rotations and the minutes, I think that’s still a little bit in flux,” head coach Doc Rivers noted. “We’ll see. You kind of decide on what you’re going to do going by how you’re practicing.”
  • With several Kings players currently unavailable, rookies Justin James, Kyle Guy and DaQuan Jeffries will be able to use team practices and scrimmages in Disney World as an opportunity to prove their mettle, according to The Athletic’s Jason Jones. Sacramento head coach Luke Walton noted that the young players are “getting crucial reps in practice and most likely, at least in the preseason (scrimmage) games, they’ll be getting some meaningful minutes as well.”
  • Newly-minted Lakers wings J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters have been using their Orlando campus tenure to bond with their L.A. teammates, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Head coach Frank Vogel commended the team’s new backcourt additions with helping to stoke everyone’s competitive fire. “They both bring toughness and swag — those guys are killers,” Vogel said. “They go after it with great competitive spirit and they have the talent to back it up and be highly productive on the court.”

Pacific Notes: James, Holmes, Mulder, Davis

Kings rookie guard Justin James received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Tuesday to treat patellar tendinitis in his right knee, according to a team press release. An update regarding his status will be provided in 1-2 weeks. A second-round pick out of Wyoming, James has appeared in 34 NBA games, averaging 2.5 PPG in 6.4 MPG. His most recent appearance was a two-minute stint on Saturday.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • With the return of Richaun Holmes from a shoulder injury, the Kings now have three viable options to center, Akis Yerocostas of the Sacramento Bee points out. Harry Giles and Alex Len performed well in his absence and have also earned playing time. It’s likely Holmes will see the majority of the minutes barring injury or foul trouble, Yerocostas continues, with Len and Giles splitting the bench minutes depending upon whether the Kings need more size and defense (Len) or more offense (Giles).
  • The Warriors used a remaining portion of their mid-level exception to sign shooting guard Mychal Mulder to a three-year contract, John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets. The last two years of the contract are not fully guaranteed. Mulder will receive a partial guarantee of $200K if he’s on the opening-night roster next season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. His contract for the 2021/22 campaign has no guarantees. Golden State is now $310K below the luxury-tax line, Marks adds.
  • Lakers star forward Anthony Davis has struck a balance between basketball and new business ventures, as Mark Medina of USA Today details. Thus far, his off-court ventures haven’t been a distraction. “For the most part,” Davis said, “I’m focusing on playing and doing great things.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/15/20

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA: