Brian Lewis reports that the Nets will sign Euroleague star Mike James on Friday. It’s the earliest possible date he can clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Multiple sources confirm guard Mike James has been in protocol with the #Nets since this past Sunday. He’ll sign with Brooklyn on Friday. #nba— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) April 21, 2021
It now appears that James will sign a 10-day deal once he’s done with the protocols. Under league rules, the Nets can sign him to two 10-days (non necessarily consecutively), taking up nearly to the end of the season on May 16. For him to be eligible for the post-season, the Nets would have to convert James to either a standard deal or a two-way.
Marc Stein initially tweeted that the Nets would sign him to a two-way contract. As a player with only two years NBA experience, he would be eligible for a two-way. James would also be eligible for the post-season since two-ways are permitted to play in the post-season this year and that he wasn’t on an NBA roster on April 9.
The Nets' looming deal to sign the veteran guard Mike James, on course to be made official by week's end, is expected to be a two-way contract for the rest of the season, league sources say. James spent the bulk of the past two seasons with CSKA Moscow in Russia. https://t.co/dGCE8dUdfw— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 21, 2021
However, Shams Charania reported that the Nets will sign James to a 10-day deal not a two-way.
Euroleague guard Mike James is signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets this week, pending clearance of health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Much-needed G depth for the Nets.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 21, 2021
Later, Stein updated his tweet to report that indeed James will at least initially be signed to a 10-day deal once finished with the protocols.
Source with knowledge of the Nets' plans said the team indeed intends to sign Mike James to a 10-day contract when the deal is made official later this week.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 21, 2021
Finally, Andrey Karashov, who covers CSKA for TASS, the Russian news agency, told NetsDaily the contract is a 10-day.
No matter the duration of the contract, it appears the deal is somewhat of a “rental.” CSKA Moscow released James Wednesday morning stating that he’ll return to the Euroleague power next season and that he will sign in the NBA “in the coming days.” James signed a three-year deal last June that pays him $2.5 million in 2020-21, making him the fourth highest player in Europe. He was suspended by CSKA at the end of March after an altercation with the team’s head coach, Dimitris Itoudis. It was his second suspension.
Mike James to play in the NBA— CSKA Moscow (@cskabasket) April 21, 2021
Our club and guard @TheNatural_05 have come to an agreement that will allow the player to become a free agent until the end of the 2020-21 season...
In the coming days, James will sign a contract with one of the clubs of the @NBA. pic.twitter.com/rMHrJTMqFQ
James is one of the Euroleague’s top guards, having averaged 19.3 points and 4.7 assists in 27 Euroleague games this season. The 30-year-old was seen as a legitimate MVP before being suspended, having been named “Player of the Round,” the Euroleague version of player of the week, four times.
Rumors of the Nets interest started late last week when reporters for Eurohoops, the Euroleague’s official fan site, reported he was a “candidate” to join the Nets. This was after a earlier report that the Knicks were doing their own due diligence on James.
Then Monday night, Chema de Lucas, a respected European basketball writer, went further. tweeting that James will play for the Nets for the rest of the season, adding that he will be “immediately incorporated.”
In his career, James, a product of Lamar University, has played for the Suns and Pelicans in the NBA as well as in Croatia, Israel, Romania, Greece, Spain as well as Russia. In 2017-18, playing with the Suns, he averaged 10.4 points and 3.8 assists in 32 games, 10 of them starts. He had two of his best games vs. the Nets, scoring 16 and 24 points while racking up six steals. He has not played in the league since.
What’s the benefit to CSKA? Under rules governing international basketball, whatever the Nets pay James will be subtracted from what CSKA’s financial commitment to him.
What’s the benefit to the Nets of a “rental” other than having another solid back-up after the loss of Chris Chiozza, Tyler Johnson and now James Harden? What happens if they want to keep him beyond this season? Most high-level European league players have an “NBA out” in their contract permitting them to opt out of their deal if they pay a negotiated buyout, which in James situation is likely large considering his salary. NBA teams can pay up to $775,000 this year — $800,000 next year — to help with the buyout. Beyond that, the player is responsible (or the difference can be added to the team’s salary cap.)