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Lewis: Nets to sign Mike James Friday once he passes protocols

Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz v CSKA Moscow - Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Photo by Frank Lovicario/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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.

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.

However, Shams Charania reported that the Nets will sign James to a 10-day deal not a two-way.

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.

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.

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.)