Mike James

And-Ones: Billups, LeBron, Free Agency, Budinger

ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups wants to run an NBA team in the near future, according to an Associated Press report. Billups turned down the Cavaliers’ GM job last summer, saying then it would tough to rebuild the team if LeBron James bolted. Rumors flew this summer that he’d be a candidate for a Pistons’ front-office post but he wasn’t seriously considered. “My desire is to one day run a team, be in a front office and try to build a champion,” Billups said. “I know that I will and I know I’m going to do a good job. When that opportunity presents itself, and it’s a good opportunity, I’ll be ready to go.”

In other news from around the league and overseas:

  • LeBron James will skip next week’s USA Basketball minicamp, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. It will be the first official session for USA Basketball with the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich as the head coach.
  • Dwyane Wade could be a bargain for the Heat or another team still shopping for a free agent guard, according to another AP story. Wade could probably be signed in the $5MM range. Vince Carter, Michael Beasley and restricted free agent Marcus Smart are three other veteran free agents who could offer value at a bargain rate, the story adds.
  • Former NBA forward Chase Budinger is pursuing a career in volleyball, Drew Ruiz of HoopsHype reports. Budinger is chasing an Olympic dream and has become a partner with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal on the AVP Beach Volleyball circuit. “That’s been a goal of mine since I was in high school, to be on an Olympic team and playing for the USA,” Budinger told Ruiz. Budinger’s NBA career ended after he played 17 games for the Suns in the second half of the 20015/16 season.
  • Former NBA guard Mike James has signed a lucrative offer sheet with Italy’s Olimpia Milano through the 2021 season, international expert David Pick tweets. James started 10 games for the Suns last season and appeared in 32 games overall, averaging 10.4 PPG and. 3.8 APG. After getting waived, he played four games with the Pelicans before getting waived again. He then had a second stint with Greece’s Panathinaikos Athens and won a championship.

Pelicans Waive Rashad Vaughn, Mike James

The Pelicans have requested waivers on guard Rashad Vaughn and two-way player Mike James, per an official press release from the team. And according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, it looks like New Orleans may use the newly acquired roster spot gained from releasing Vaughn to give the team an option to acquire another player in the upcoming buyout market.

Vaughn, who began this season with the Bucks, was acquired by the Nets in exchange for Tyler Zeller earlier this week. Then, on trade deadline day, the Nets traded him to the Pelicans in exchange for Dante Cunningham, giving New Orleans a trade exception worth $2.3MM, the value of Cunningham’s salary.

The 21-year-old former first-round pick played in only one game for the Nets and didn’t suit up for the Pelicans. In Milwaukee, he appeared in 22 games this season, averaging 2.7 PPG in only 7.9 MPG. He will become an unrestricted free agent assuming he clears waivers.

James, whose release was first reported yesterday by David Pick, asked the Pelicans to waive him so that he could return to Panathinaikos B.C. in Greece, where James helped Panathinaikos win both the Greek Cup title and the Greek Basket League championship last season.

Likely most recognized for being the first player in NBA history to have his two-way contract converted into a regular season contract, James put up respectable numbers for the Suns as a rookie earlier this season, averaging 10.4 points and 3.8 assists in 20.9 minutes per game before being waived to make room on the roster for Isaiah Canaan.

Pelicans Sign Mike James To Two-Way Deal

JANUARY 14, 9:17am: The signing is official, according to the Real GM transactions log.

JANUARY 13, 1:34pm: The Pelicans will fill their remaining two-way slot by signing former Suns‘ point guard Mike James, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. James will move into the opening created by the Pelicans earlier this week when they waived two-way player Jalen Jones.

James, the 27-year-old rookie who went undrafted in 2012, and was the first player in league history to have his two-way contract converted into a regular season contract, was waived by the Suns last month to make room on the roster for Isaiah Canaan.

Before being waived, James put up respectable numbers for the Suns, averaging 10.4 points and 3.8 assists in 20.9 minutes per game. He will likely get a shot at showing fans in New Orleans that his stint in Phoenix was not a fluke, as the Pelicans currently have four players sidelined with long-term injuries.

International Notes: Randle, M. James, Bargnani

When former Knicks and Sixers guard Chasson Randle signed with Spanish team Real Madrid back in October, his deal included an opt-out clause that gave the team the chance to part ways with him before the end of the 2017/18 campaign. However, according to international basketball reporter David Pick (via Twitter), Real Madrid intends to waive that opt-out and retain Randle for the rest of the season.

Randle, who appeared in 26 NBA games last season for the Knicks and Sixers, hasn’t had a major role for a Real Madrid squad that features several other former NBA players – including Rudy Fernandez, Anthony Randolph, and Gustavo Ayon – as well as the potential No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft (Luka Doncic). Still, the club has apparently liked what it has seen from the former Stanford guard, and will keep him around for now.

Here are a couple more notes from around the international basketball scene:

  • Having been waived by the Suns last month, Mike James may be headed back overseas to resume his playing career. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports that the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association are considering James as a potential replacement for French guard Edwin Jackson.
  • Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani, who last appeared in the NBA for the Nets in 2015/16, played for Baskonia in Spain last season, but hasn’t caught on with another team so far this year. As Sportando relays, Bargnani published a Facebook post explaining that he’s not currently looking to continue his playing career, despite being healthy. While Bargnani’s message stops short of announcing his retirement, it remains unclear whether or not the 32-year-old will return to the court at some point.

Pacific Notes: Evans, Clippers, James, Dudley

It’s rare to have a rookie play like a seasoned veteran on either side of the ball but Jawun Evans‘ impact on the Clippers‘ defense has been considerable. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that Evans’ presence on the court has resulted in fewer points for the opposition and head coach Doc Rivers has noticed.

“I think Jawun’s ball pressure has been great,” Rivers said. “My entire theory on defense is the more clock you can [make the offense] use before they start, the less time they have to hurt you. And what Jawun’s doing when he’s in the game, he pressures the ball and teams are starting their offense at 13 and 12 seconds. It’s tough to score on a team in 12 seconds. And so I think that’s helped as well.”

Evans, 21, has appeared in 26 games this season, averaging 5.5 PPG and 1.9 APG. The Clippers have struggled this season and currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference. Evans, however, has turned heads with his defensive abilities.

Below you can read up on other news out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers face a roster predicament with Jamil Wilson and C.J. Williams, Elliot Teaford of the Orange County Register writes. Both Winston and Williams are on two-way deals, meaning they can only spend 45 days with the Clippers. The team can sign them to NBA deals but do not have two open roster spots. “It’s going to be tough,” Rivers said. “I won’t tell you our plans, but they’re not going to be great, I can tell you that. That’s all I can tell you. You’ll see. No, we just don’t have a lot of good options. We have to play them right now because we need them, and they’re playing great.”
  • Mike James, who the Suns waived last week, has cleared waivers, Scott Bordow of Arizona Republic tweets. The Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association are making a “hard push” to sign James, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. James, 27, averaged 10.4 PPG and 3.8 APG in 32 games for Phoenix before being waived.
  • Suns’ forward Jared Dudley has embraced the role of a veteran leader for Phoenix, the 32-year-old said to James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. Dudley has only appeared in 14 games this season and is averaging career-lows across nearly every category. However, he enjoys helping the team’s younger players.“I think that through my knowledge and wisdom that I’ve helped [the young players] out and that is something that I can continue to do,” Dudley said. “I mean every NBA team is getting younger by the year and teams are looking for vets to help out.”

Suns Notes: Canaan, Booker, James, Monroe

Isaiah Canaan‘s playmaking and defense helped him win a roster spot in Phoenix, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. After joining the Suns when they were granted a hardship exception 10 days ago, Canaan has been rewarded with a contract for the rest of the season.

“I wasn’t caught up in how many days and how long I might be around here,” he said. “Make a splash and showcase what I can do. I was going to come in, do what I knew I was capable of doing and what I needed to do to stay around.”

Canaan earned the nod over incumbent starting point guard Mike James, who was waived Friday. The Suns see Canaan as more of a natural point guard than James, Bordow explains, and were happy with how he ran the offense. He also exhibited a willingness to fight through screen-and-rolls and helped Phoenix hold its opponents under 100 points twice in his first four games with the team.

There’s more tonight out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns expect Devin Booker back in the lineup Tuesday, Bordow relays in the same story. That will mark exactly three weeks since he suffered a left adductor strain. Booker will participate in Sunday’s practice, then will be medically evaluated to see how he responds. “He’s moving well, but it’s a tough situation because I’m not one of the guys that’s going to make the decision on that,” coach Jay Triano said. “And I think we’re going to be cautious more than anything else. With where we are and where he in this franchise history, I think it makes sense to be cautious.”
  • With Booker returning soon and rookie guard Davon Reed expected back around the first of the year, the Suns chose to waive a player from their backcourt rather than seek a buyout with Greg Monroe, Bordow adds. Monroe sat out three straight games before playing 27 minutes Thursday, but was back on the bench tonight. However, Triano wants to keep him around for depth so Tyson Chandler won’t have to play on back-to-back nights.
  • Monroe hasn’t given up hope of returning to the rotation and has played pretty well when given the chance, Bordow notes in a separate piece. He is averaging 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds and is shooting better than 60% from the field in 11 games since being acquired from Milwaukee. “I want to play,” Monroe said. “But I’m just trying to control what I can. That’s all I focus on. But it definitely is hard. I’d definitely like to be playing consistently.”

Suns Sign Isaiah Canaan For Remainder Of Season

The Suns have signed point guard Isaiah Canaan to a minimum deal for the remainder of the 2017/18 season, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter).

Canaan was originally signed using the Suns’ hardship exception due to four players being out with injuries. In four games since joining the Suns, the 26-year-old has averaged 13.0 PPG and 5.0 APG. Earlier this week, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said that Canaan’s performance earned him a longer look, possibly for the rest of the season.

“I think with what Isaiah’s done, we should plan on having him in Phoenix for the rest of the year, if not longer,” McDonough said (via Arizona Sports).

Phoenix waived Mike James — who had his two-way deal converted to an NBA deal — yesterday despite the 27-year-old rookie’s own success this season. In 32 games (10 starts), James averaged 10.4 PPG and 3.8 APG. Canaan — despite having played for five teams in five seasons — is still younger than the rookie James and the Suns elected to go with the younger, more experienced player.

Mike James Waived By Suns

The Suns have waived guard Mike James, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 27-year-old rookie had initially been signed to a two-way contract with the franchise but had that deal converted into a regular season contract.

The decision was likely a difficult one for the organization to make, considering that James had thrived on a young team that found stability in the mature first-year player. We discussed on Wednesday, however, that such a decision may have been looming for the franchise.

With four players sidelined due to injury, the team had recently been granted a hardship exception and used it on December 13 to sign journeyman point guard Isaiah Canaan. Canaan’s play in the four games since has essentially forced the team’s hand.

In four matchups this season, playing 25.0 minutes a night, Canaan has averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. While James’ numbers were respectable in their own right, Canaan may have the higher ceiling, not least because despite being a five-year veteran, he’s still actually younger than James.

James, who went undrafted in 2012, will now turn his attention to finding a new home, a task that may be a bit easier now that he has a quarter of a season of big league games under his belt.

Another Roster Decision Looming For Suns?

It was just a couple weeks ago that the Suns were forced to make a roster decision — in order to make room on their 15-man squad to convert Mike James‘ two-way contract into a standard NBA deal, the team had to trade or waive another player. Ultimately, Phoenix opted to waive Derrick Jones to open up that roster spot.

In that case, the Suns’ decision was fairly simple — Jones’ salary was non-guaranteed and he had only appeared briefly in six games all season. He didn’t have a key role in Phoenix, and his upside wasn’t so substantial that he was a crucial part of the team’s long-term plans. It made sense that he’d be the man out.

Now though, another roster decision may be approaching for the Suns, and this one may not be quite as simple.

With four players on the shelf due to injuries, the Suns were recently granted a hardship exception, giving them an extra roster spot, and used it to sign point guard Isaiah Canaan. Since joining the club, Canaan has played a crucial role in a pair of Suns wins, averaging an impressive 16.0 PPG with 6.5 APG and a .600/.600/.917 shooting line in his two games.

Obviously, that sample size is extremely small. It’s entirely possible that Canaan will struggle in his next couple games and the Suns will simply opt to let him go when their hardship exception expires and Booker – or another player – is ready to return. Still, Canaan is making a strong case for a permanent spot on the roster, and if he keeps it up, the Suns would have to trade or waive another player to get back down to 15 players.

Players with modest salaries or non-guaranteed contracts are generally the most vulnerable in this sort of situation, but after waiving Jones, Phoenix doesn’t have any other players on non-guaranteed deals. And most of the team’s lowest-paid players are promising youngsters that the club wouldn’t want to waive — that list includes Davon Reed, Tyler Ulis, Booker, Marquese Chriss, T.J. Warren, Troy Daniels, Alex Len, Dragan Bender, and Josh Jackson, in ascending salary order.

The Suns’ roster also features high-priced veterans like Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Tyson Chandler, and Jared Dudley, plus injured big man Alan Williams, whose $6MM salary puts him squarely between the pricier vets and the inexpensive young players. Knight, Chandler, and Dudley all have significant guarantees beyond this season, Monroe has been playing too well to simply be cut, and waiving Williams – who has yet to play a single game since signing a three-year deal in the offseason, doesn’t seem logical either.

So who’s left? Only James, whose minutes have been significantly reduced during the past two games since Canaan arrived.

Since the Suns won’t have much leverage to push for a trade in the coming days, waiving a player seems more likely. Phoenix’s decision might ultimately come down to the point guard whose impressive play on a two-way deal earned him a full-fledged roster spot earlier this month vs. the point guard who has had only played two games (albeit two very good games) for the team so far. We may soon find out whether Canaan has made a strong enough impression to win that battle.

Suns Convert Mike James’ Two-Way Contract Into NBA Deal

DECEMBER 7, 11:35am: The Suns have officially converted James’ two-way deal to a standard NBA contract, the team announced today in a press release. The release also confirmed that the team has waived Jones, as we detailed in a separate story.

James is now on track to reach restricted free agency in 2018, while the Suns have an open two-way contract slot that could be filled at any time.

DECEMBER 6, 11:02pm: The Suns are converting Mike James‘ two-way contract into a traditional NBA contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. On Thursday, James will have spent 45 days with the NBA club, which is the maximum allowed under a two-way deal.

James will be the first player in NBA history to have his two-way deal converted. Phoenix plans on opening a roster spot on Thursday morning and Derrick Jones is a good bet to be the casualty of the transaction, barring a trade.

The point guard made approximately $213K on his two-way deal and he could earn slightly over $580K if he remains with the team for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. James took on a larger role once the Suns dealt away Eric Bledsoe, starting 10 games before finding his niche leading the second unit.