The return of Mike James to his native United States could be close to finding port. The point guard, whose contract with CSKA Moscow is still in force, left for the other side of the Atlantic at the beginning of the month. with the aim of finding a franchise that would unblock its current situation: it is removed from Russian discipline after the umpteenth controversy of the season. “James has the opportunity to be in the NBA this season or, perhaps, to find a team for the next. With this scenario it will be easier for us to reach a beneficial agreement,” said CSKA president Andrei Vatutin. At the same time, his representation agency, BDA Sports INTTL, did the same, putting his player in a position to negotiate through a statement. Little more than two weeks later, with the controversies in a dormant state, lighthouses are beginning to be glimpsed, all of them located in the Big Apple. According to journalist Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks would be interested in taking over the player’s services; According to Dionysis Aravantinos and Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops, the Nets are leading the most determined bet. Both operations, a priori, would make sense.
Recently, the New York franchise did not offer John Henson the possibility of joining its staff, after having been part of it through a 10-day contract. The reason, as pointed out in the New York media itself, the consideration of Norvel Pelle as a replacement for guarantees for Nerlens Noel. With this, the entity, with the squad open in the face of a more than desired playoffs, could have turned its interests, changing the interior positions for the exterior ones in its list of priorities. Adding, in addition, medium-term arguments: Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose and Frank Nilikina, all of them point guards, will be free agents in the next market. In Brooklyn, on the other hand, the unexpected withdrawal of LaMarcus Aldridge could have catapulted movements that were already considered, but that could have gained in speed. Although it is true that it would not be a replacement by position, the possibility that the next incorporation would be that of an outsider is contemplated by the management of the franchise. “We’re in a dilemma. You can’t find another LaMarcus. Once James (Harden) and Kevin (Durant) and some of the other players we don’t have available come back, we’ll have a better idea of what we need in the rotation. I don’t think it’s written that we have to go, yes or yes, for an interior or an exterior. We will see where the needs are over the course of the next week and make a decision“, Sean Marks, general manager of the franchise, recently explained in statements collected by Eurohoops.
Either one option or the other, if it materializes, it would be good news for both the player and the Moscow team, whose relations, at the third time, have been definitively broken. In November, James was out of the team for a week; In January, there was a rift that, at many times, seemed insurmountable. “CSKA and I will work on this internally and we will work on this as a group,” he posted on his social media after “various misunderstandings” regarding leave following the death of his grandfather. “It is impossible to settle the conflict between James and Itoudis. We must not demonize Mike because he is a great basketball player, but the situation has turned into a conflict,” Vatutin assumed after the latest discrepancies. To this day, the relationship between player and team extends, legally, until the year 2023; although both one party and the other have shown their willingness to reach a termination agreement in case of finding a destination in the United States.
Past and future in the NBA
American competition is not uncharted territory for Mike James. During the 2017-18 season, and after being left out of the Draft positions in 2012, the point guard was able to play 36 games in the league, although without much luck. Most of them, 32, were with Phoneix Suns, with averages of 10.4 points and 3.8 assists with only 26.8% correct in the triple; the rest, a testimonial passage through the New Orleans Pelicans, where he averaged 4.5 minutes. Now, with top-tier star status in the Euroleague, 19.3 points and 5.7 assists this season and the competition’s top scorer in 2019, with Olimpia Milano, he hopes to take a very different tack. Sportingly, both options are more than attractive. In Brooklyn, along with the almighty big-three made up of Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving, he would become part of one of the highest contenders for the ring (the first in its history). In the other case, it would reach some Knicks who, led by Tom Thibodeau, are seeing the light again. After 20 years, the franchise is once again above 50% of victories and aims for a playoffs in which it wants to fight; if necessary, with James as a new soldier. Tick-tock, tick-tock.