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OFFICIAL: Nets sign Euroleague star Mike James to 10-day deal, active Friday

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

After a week of speculation, the Brooklyn Nets have signed Mike James, a legitimate candidate for Euroleague MVP before he was suspended by CSKA Moscow last month, will join the Nets on a 10-day deal starting Friday night vs. the Celtics, the announced Friday.

The 30-year-old was along with former Net Shane Larkin the European league’s most dynamic guard this season. He had been in health and safety protocols in Brooklyn since last Sunday.

“Still haven’t met him but, he’s a scorer. He was one of the top players in Europe. He’s played in the NBA. I think he gives us some ball-handling as well. I think he’s got to play tonight, frankly,” Steve Nash said. “We’ll see how the game goes but my guess is that he plays for us tonight.”

Under league rules, the Nets can sign him to two 10-days (non necessarily consecutively), taking him nearly up to the end of the season on May 16. For him to be eligible for the post-season, Brooklyn would have to convert James to either a standard deal or a two-way sometime between now and May 19 when the playoffs begin.

Originally, the Nets planned to sign James to a two-way deal, according to league sources. However, giving him a 10-day is more lucrative than two-way ... at least until they decide whether to keep him for the post-season. A 10-day contract is a pro rated vets minimum deal based on years or service. James who played in the NBA during the 2017-18 season has a year of service. A two-way, on the other hand, would have been pro rated on half the lowest vets minimum deal, the $449,000 G League salary. The 10-day also give the Nets flexibility.

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 with CSKA 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 had been one of the Euroleague’s top players, having averaged 19.3 points and 4.7 assists in 27 Euroleague games this season. He had been seen as a legitimate MVP before being suspended. He had been named “Player of the Round,” the Euroleague version of Player of the Week, four times.

As his game highlights from this season show, James is athletic with an ability to score from deep and in the paint, an excellent finisher...

Historically, James is ranked third all-time among Americans who’ve played at least 100 games in the Euroleague, according to the league’s PIR, performance index rating. Ex-Net Shane Larkin is No. 1 and Keith Langford is No. 2.

Here’s his full resume’, including that one year in the NBA, per the Nets announcement of the signing.

James (6’1”, 195) joins the Nets after playing nine professional seasons (2012-21) overseas in Croatia, Israel, Italy, Greece, Spain and Russia and in the NBA with Phoenix and New Orleans. In 36 games (10 starts) split between the Suns and Pelicans during the 2017-18 season, James holds career NBA averages of 9.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 19.1 minutes per contest.

The 30-year-old most recently spent two seasons (2019-21) with CSKA Moscow in Russia and appeared in 41 games (23 starts) during the 2020-21 season in VTB United League and EuroLeague play, recording averages of 17.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 27.5 minutes per game. James spent the 2018-19 season in Italy with Olimpia Milano, leading the team to the Italian SuperCup title and winning the Alphonso Ford EuroLeague Top Scorer Trophy for averaging a league-best 19.8 points to go with 3.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 34.0 minutes per contest in Milan’s 30 EuroLeague games (all starts). He previously won consecutive Greek League titles in 2017 and 2018 and the 2017 Greek Cup title with Panathinaikos B.C. in Athens and helped lead Spain’s Baskonia to the EuroLeague Final Four in 2016.

One of his best games in the NBA came against the Nets back in October 2017 when he finished with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. In fact, in his two career games vs. Brooklyn, he scored 40 points.

Although the Nets have not yet waived LaMarcus Aldridge, who announced his retirement on April 15, James will reportedly take his place on the roster. The signing brings the Nets roster to 17 the players, the maximum, including the two two-ways, Chris Chiozza and Reggie Perry.

James is the 27th player to wear the Nets uniform this season, which is a team record.