Damion James

Warriors Rumors: Durant, Jones, New Arena

Kevin Durant has quickly assimilated himself into the Warriors’ offense and his production is comparable to his MVP season in 2013/14, Sam Amick of USA Today points out. Durant is on pace to have the most efficient season of all time for a player averaging at least 25 points a game, Amick notes. The perennial All-Star forward has posted a player efficiency rating of 30.7, higher than the 29.8 PER he had during that MVP season with the Thunder. Unlike the struggles of the Heat’s Big Three during their first season together, the Warriors are already maximizing the talents of Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, as they are taking nearly the same amount of shots, Amick continues. The Warriors are averaging 117.6 points a game, which would make them the most prolific offense since the 1991-92 Warriors, Amick adds.

In other Warriors news:

  • First-round pick Damian Jones is unlikely to claim a rotation spot this season, GM Bob Myers said in a radio interview that was relayed on CSNBayArea.com. Jones has been shuttling between the Warriors and the team’s D-League affiliate the past two weeks after recovering from a pectoral injury. The 7-footer out of Vanderbilt has yet to make his NBA debut. He is averaging 2.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks over 19.4 minutes per contest with the Santa Cruz Warriors. “It’s gonna be hard to crack our rotation,” Myers told radio station 95.7 The Game. “He hasn’t played basketball in seven months. He needs to play a lot more basketball. But we’re encouraged.
  • Rockets star guard James Harden wasn’t upset that Durant left the Rockets off his list of teams that he visited during free agency last summer, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com writes“It would have been nice for a visit,” Harden told Watkins. “For himself and his family, he made the decision, and he’s very confident about it.”
  • Rick Welts, the team’s Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement the franchise plans to break ground soon on a new arena now that another legal hurdle has been cleared, according to Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com. The California Appeals Court upheld a previous ruling that declared the Environmental Impact Report for the team’s site on San Francisco’s Mission Bay met all required standards. The ruling is likely to be appealed by the Mission Bay Alliance to the California Supreme Court, Poole continues. The Warriors plan to vacate Oracle Arena after the 2018/19 season and move into Chase Center in 2019, Poole adds.

Western Notes: Durant, Matthews, Hamilton

Executives from around the league seem to think that Kevin Durant will end up re-signing with the Thunder next year, but the Wizards, Mavericks, Lakers, Heat, Knicks and Nets are expected to be among his most dogged suitors, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Damion James, a Wizards summer-leaguer whom Castillo describes as Durant’s best friend, says it’ll come down to wins and losses.

“He’ll do whatever it takes to win. Whoever gives him the best chance to win is where he’s going to end up,” James said.

The Thunder certainly seem to have kept themselves in the discussion on that front, having just paid the max to avoid losing Enes Kanter. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • No contract handed out this summer has seemed to draw as many surprised reactions for its munificence as the one Wesley Matthews ended up with from the Mavericks, observes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The shooting guard was going to make $57MM over four years with the Mavs before they bumped his deal up to the maximum of $70,060,025, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “A healthy Wesley Matthews at $70MM is insane,” one GM told Bulpett. “But Wesley Matthews coming off Achilles’ surgery at $70MM? What’s a stronger way to say insane?”
  • Justin Hamilton is close to a deal with Valencia of Spain, according to Paco Garcia Caridad of the Spanish outlet Marca (Twitter link; translation via Trapani). Hamilton, who went to the Finals with the Heat in 2013/14, finished this past season as a member of the Timberwolves.
  • Miroslav Raduljica has agreed to sign with Panathinaikos of Greece, reports Sportando’s Enea Trapani. The Kings reportedly had interest in the big man who was briefly with the Wolves this past season. The team was reportedly close to a deal with Nikola Milutinov, whom the Spurs drafted 26th overall, but now the status of negotiations with Milutinov is unclear. Regardless, the Spurs have already filed paperwork with the league saying they won’t sign Milutinov this year, thus clearing his cap hold.

Multiple Teams Eyeing Damion James

At least four teams are considering bringing aboard former Nets and Spurs forward Damion James, according to Shams Charania of RealGM, who identifies the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, and Clippers among the teams with interest (Twitter link). The former 24th overall pick has put up impressive numbers for the Texas Legends of the D-League this season after failing to make Washington’s roster out of training camp.

James, 27, appeared in five contests for the Spurs last season. He signed a 10-day deal with San Antonio in April and inked a pact that covered the remainder of the season once his first contract was up. The 6’7″ Texas alum hasn’t been able to make much of an impact in the NBA after four strong years playing for the Longhorns.

An earlier report indicated that the Wizards have been keeping an eye on James. Washington’s roster stands at 14 players, one short of the league maximum, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team ink James to a 10-day contract. He was reportedly a better bet to make the team than Rasual Butler out of training camp before the veteran guard impressed Washington brass.

Michael’s Latest: Wright, Nelson, Green

The Wizards opened a roster spot when they waived Glen Rice Jr. this week, and the team is looking at several avenues to fill it, as J. Michael of CSNWashington.com reports. The Celtics figure prominently, as we note amid the revelations from Michael’s piece:

  • Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge has told Brandan Wright he’s on the block, though it’s unlikely that Wright ends up in Washington, in part because of the high demand for him, Michael writes. Michael doesn’t specify whether the Wizards are pursuing him. Wright went to Boston in the Rajon Rondo trade.
  • The player most likely to end up in Washington’s open roster spot is Jameer Nelson, another one of Boston’s acquisitions in that Rondo deal, according to Michael, who says the point guard is expected to negotiate a buyout. The Wizards will be in “hot pursuit,” Michael writes. Nelson is making $2.732MM this season and has a player option worth nearly $2.855MM for next season, and he’s upset about his playing time, even though he insists that he and Celtics coach Brad Stevens are on the same page. Nelson will once more remain on the Inactive List for tonight’s game, tweets Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
  • The Wizards have maintained “routine” contact with Ray Allen since first reaching out to him in July, sources tell Michael. The Wizards plan to keep chasing him until he retires or gives a definitive “no,” according to Michael. Still, the notion that Allen ends up in Washington sounds like a long shot, Michael writes.
  • Celtics forward Jeff Green is expected to turn down his $9.2MM player option for next season, according to Michael, and the Wizards would be interested in signing him if Paul Pierce also opts out, Michael adds.
  • The Wizards have been keeping a close eye on D-Leaguers Khem Birch and Damion James, Michael reports. Birch declined an invitation to Wizards training camp invite to instead head to the Heat‘s camp, according to Michael, and the power forward is now with Miami’s D-League affiliate. James was with the Wizards in camp and currently plays for the affiliate of the Mavs.

Wizards Cut Lucas, James, Silas

2:13pm: The trio of Silas, James, and Lucas have indeed been waived, the team announced in a press release.

SATURDAY, 1:10pm: The Wizards have waived Silas, James, and John Lucas III, Michael reports (Twitter link). No official word from the team has been made, and their was no mention of Butler also being waived. After these moves the team’s preseason roster count stands at 15, so the Wizards wouldn’t be required to make any further cuts.

8:29pm: Michael has updated his report to reflect that Butler, James and Silas have yet to be released, and could actually still be retained. Though, in a later story, the CSN Washington scribe suggests that the chances the Wizards retain any of the trio is slim.

TUESDAY, 9:38am: The Wizards are set to part ways with Rasual Butler, Damion James and Xavier Silas, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, who writes amid his story on Washington’s deal with John Lucas III. That indicates that the club will place its non-guaranteed contracts with the trio on waivers in advance of Monday’s deadline to set its opening-night roster. The addition of Lucas will give the team 15 players with at least a partial guarantee, which puts the squeeze on Butler, James and Silas.

The three swingmen appeared to have better chances at remaining with the team into the regular season once Bradley Beal went down with injury, but it looks like GM Ernie Grunfeld is going a different direction to bolster his backcourt. James and Silas were reportedly the strongest contenders among the three to remain with the team. Silas went to training camp with the Wizards this fall for the second year in a row, while James was the 24th overall pick in 2010 and showed promise before a series of injuries derailed his career. The 35-year-old Butler was hoping to duplicate what he did with Indiana last year, when he made the Pacers out of camp and wound up contributing in the playoffs.

The subtraction of Butler, James and Silas will drop the Wizards to 15 players, seemingly setting the club’s opening-night roster. Washington released Daniel Orton, Vander Blue and David Stockton earlier in the preseason.

Wizards Officially Announce Six Camp Deals

The Wizards have officially announced the signings of Vander Blue, Xavier Silas, David Stockton, Rasual Butler, Damion James and Daniel Orton. The team statement is an acknowledgement of reports regarding all six, all of whom had already agreed to join the team for training camp.

They’re all non-guaranteed arrangements for the minimum salary. The length of Orton’s deal is unclear, but the rest are on one-year contracts, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, so that makes them eligible for Exhibit 9 Contracts that limit the team’s liability if they’re injured during training camp.

The group of six joins 13 Wizards with fully guaranteed pacts, along with Glen Rice Jr., whose minimum salary pact is partially guaranteed for $400K, roughly half its value. A report from J. Michael of CSNWashington last week seemed to indicate that James and Silas had an edge for the team’s 15th regular season roster spot, though Michael wrote earlier that there’s a decent chance the team won’t carry a full complement of players for opening night.

And-Ones: Pistons, LeBron, Contract Details

The Pistons have a new direction as a franchise now that Stan Van Gundy has taken over as team president and head coach. In their season preview the crew at Basketball Insiders don’t see the team becoming contenders just yet, and their predictions have Detroit finishing either third or fourth in the Central Division.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Nuggets signees Joe Alexander and Marcus Williams, new Lakers Keith Appling, Jabari Brown, Roscoe Smith and Jeremy Tyler, Heat additions Andre Dawkins and Shawn Jones, Wizards wing men Xavier Silas and Damion James, and Hasheem Thabeet of the Pistons are all on non-guaranteed one-year contracts for the minimum salary, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details (All four Twitter links here).
  • LeBron James might be gone from Miami, but he takes with him a number of lessons the Heat organization taught him about professionalism, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes. James is a much different person than when he was with the Cavs the first time, notes Windhorst, and the additions of Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, and James Jones are indications that Cleveland wants to bump up the work ethic and preparation habits of their younger players.
  • When asked about departed free agent Trevor Ariza, who left the Wizards to sign with the Rockets this summer, Marcin Gortat believed Ariza’s decision wasn’t about finances, tweets Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Gortat said, “In my opinion I think he was trying to get back to the West. I don’t think it was about the money.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Union, Ariza, Wizards, O’Neal, Nets

Players union executive director Michele Roberts is making $1.2MM this year, the first of a four-year contract, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com. Roberts, who officially began the job this week, tells Soshnick that she can earn an additional $600K each year of the pact via bonuses. Either way, it’s significantly less than the $3MM that predecessor Billy Hunter was making per year. Still, Roberts’ salary is on par with what first-year executive directors for the NFL and Major League Baseball players unions have made of late, as Soshnick points out. There’s more on Roberts amid the latest from around the league, as we pass along:

  • Roberts didn’t mince words with Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News in declaring her intention to establish credibility with players and not follow the path of Hunter, whose tenure ended amid allegations of corruption. “I’m sure there are people thinking, ‘Ahh, another politician-like person coming in trying to sell us a bunch of bull,’” Roberts said. “And that’s my job to win them over, to tell them, ‘No, this time it will be different or fire me. I want you to if I even dare replicate my predecessor.’”
  • Trevor Ariza was asking for $10MM salaries from the Wizards, but GM Ernie Grunfeld wouldn’t go that high in part because he was pursuing Paul Pierce, writes J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.
  • Rasual Butler‘s similarities to Pierce helped him earn a spot on the Wizards preseason roster, but Xavier Silas and Damion James each has a better shot at making it to opening night, as Michael adds in the same piece.
  • Warriors GM Bob Myers spoke with veteran center Jermaine O’Neal on Monday, but Myers tells Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle that he still doesn’t have much clarity about whether O’Neal will retire or re-sign with Golden State.
  • Jerome Jordan‘s deal with the Nets becomes partially guaranteed for $100K should he remain on the roster through October 25th, not $150K as previously reported, a source tells Robert Windrem of Nets Daily (Twitter link).
  • Spurs assistant coach Sean Marks is moving off the bench and returning to the front office in a new role as assistant GM, the team announced. Marks spent two years as an executive before San Antonio made him an assistant coach last season.

Cray Allred contributed to this post. 

Wizards Sign Xavier Silas

SEPTEMBER 29TH: The deal is official, the team announced.

SEPTEMBER 23RD: While the team hasn’t announced Silas’ deal, it has been signed, as the RealGM transaction log shows.

SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2:03pm: Silas has put pen to paper on a contract with the Wizards, as he tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), though there’s been no official announcement from the team yet.

1:03pm: Xavier Silas has committed to a camp deal with the Wizards, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Washington is also close to an agreement that would bring Damion James to camp, Michael adds. Silas is almost certainly getting the minimum salary, and James assuredly would, too, since the Wizards can’t give out any more than that. It’s unclear whether either is in line for any sort of guaranteed salary.

Silas, a 6’5″ shooting guard, is joining the Wizards for the second straight preseason. Washington cut him before opening night last year, and he went on to play in Israel and Argentina. The 26-year-old’s only official NBA experience came in a pair of regular season games and a pair of playoff games for the Sixers in 2011/12.

James has a more extensive NBA track record, having been the 24th pick in the 2010 draft out of Texas. Still, the 6’7″ small forward made it into only 34 games in his first three NBA seasons, all with the Nets. James inked a 10-day contract followed by a deal for the rest of the season with the Spurs in April of this year, but he played in just five regular season games and didn’t appear in the postseason for San Antonio as the team made its championship run.

The Wizards are carrying 13 guaranteed deals plus a $400K partial guarantee on their contract with Glen Rice Jr., so it appears as though Silas and perhaps James would have decent chances to make it to opening night. Washington, which like so many teams is in the Ray Allen sweepstakes, would ideally round out the regular season roster with a wing player, but there’s a strong chance the Wizards will carry fewer than the maximum of 15 players when the regular season begins, according to Michael.

Wizards Sign Damion James

SEPTEMBER 29TH: The deal is official, the team announced.

SEPTEMBER 18TH: The Wizards have signed small forward Damion James, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the team has yet to make an official announcement. J. Michael of CSNWashington.com reported earlier this week that an agreement was close. It’s almost certainly for the minimum salary, since that’s all the Wizards can give, though it’s unclear whether it involves any guaranteed salary.

It’s the third straight September that James has signed a new deal, and the former 24th overall pick is surely hoping for better luck this time after he failed to make it to opening night on non-guaranteed contracts with the Hawks and Nuggets. The Mark Bartelstein client has nonetheless found his way onto NBA rosters in each of the past two seasons via 10-day contracts, and the Spurs signed him for the final few days of the regular season and the playoffs this spring, though he failed to appear in a postseason game.

Washington has been carrying 13 guaranteed deals, and the team’s contract with Glen Rice Jr. is partially guaranteed, so that seemingly sets up a battle between James and Xavier Silas, both wing players, for the team’s 15th regular season roster spot. Still, it would be somewhat surprising to see the Wizards leave four open spots beneath the 20-man preseason roster limit, and Michael indicated in his report this week that there’s a strong chance the Wizards won’t carry 15 players on opening night.