LaMarcus Aldridge abruptly announced his retirement from the NBA last week, an irregular heartbeat prompting the seven-time All-Star to choose health and family over basketball. Suddenly, the Brooklyn Nets had an extra spot open on their roster.
“Brooklyn will probably want to use the roster spot created by Aldridge’s retirement on a ball handler,” ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wrote in a story that published last Thursday. The Nets, after all, won’t be able to find a true replacement for the dynamic skill set that Aldridge brought. And they’re in good shape at center with DeAndre Jordan, Nic Claxton and potentially Blake Griffin or Jeff Green in small-ball lineups.
Indeed, it appears the Nets are going with a ball handler to fill the roster spot that Aldridge vacated.
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Nets signing Mike James
Mike James is joining the Nets for the remainder of the season, according to EuroLeague reporter Chema de Lucas.
Chris Sheridan, senior NBA columnist for BasketballNews.com, confirmed Lucas’ report.
I can confirm that Mike James of CSKA Moscow will be joining the Brooklyn #Nets. He was allowed out of his contract in Russia after clashing with his coach.
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) April 19, 2021
According to the New York Post, the Knicks also had James on their radar as they looked to bolster their backcourt depth.
James, 30, went undrafted out of Lamar in 2012 and has spent the majority of his professional career playing overseas. His last stint in the NBA came in 2018, when he was signed to a two-way contract with the Pelicans and appeared in four games for them.
Most recently, the 6-foot-1 guard played for CSKA Moscow, which suspended him in March after an altercation with head coach Dimitris Itoudis, according to the New York Post.
James averaged 10.4 points (on 38.8 percent shooting) and 3.8 assists while appearing in 32 games for the Phoenix Suns during the 2017-18 season. Since the 2014-15 season, he averaged 14.1 points (on 43.5 percent shooting) and 3.9 assists while appearing in 140 games in the EuroLeague.
James was especially good of late, averaging 19.3 points and 4.7 assists in 27 games this season in the EuroLeague. He shot over 40 percent from 3-point range over the past two seasons.
When asked how the Nets might look to fill the roster spot that Aldridge once occupied, Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said the team would proceed cautiously.
“We’ll do our due diligence as always and keep grinding away,” Marks, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “We’ll look at what we’ve got. … I don’t think we want to jump to any conclusions on what we might need or what we might be missing.
“We’ll look at every alternative and everybody out there. Obviously losing a player like LaMarcus is without a doubt a blow to us. It’s about us being flexible.”
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NBA Analyst Likes Signing for Nets
Kendrick Perkins, a former NBA center who spent 13 years in the league and is now an analyst for ESPN, gave his stamp of approval the Nets reportedly signing James.
“Mike James is a BUCKET!!!” Perkins tweeted Monday. “Great pick up by the Nets.”
So did Nets star Kevin Durant’s brother, Tony.
Durants brother approves pic.twitter.com/mftsXoEy63
— Brian Niemiec (@BKBN1979) April 19, 2021
For now, James could be a nice way for the Nets to pad their depth for the Nets. Brooklyn has been struck by a rash of injuries that has left it short on bodies.
Nets list Kevin Durant as out for tomorrow's game in New Orleans due to the left thigh contusion he suffered in Miami. James Harden, Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson remain out. Nic Claxton and Reggie Perry are out due to health and safety protocols.
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) April 19, 2021