Well, this sucks.
For those of you who already hated the Monta Ellis signing, this probably doesn't help. There have been rumors floating around all week about James' status with the Mavs and it appears we have some closure.
James will go on waivers and with a minimum salary, any team can make a claim on him. While it's possible James could clear waivers and Dallas resign him (which Stein says the team is really hoping for) because other teams have mostly filled out their rosters by this time, it's still doubtful. James' rookie season success will ensure someone picks him up.
I was very skeptical when the Mavs selected James in the second round last year. Mainly because all anyone talked about leading into that season was James decision to forgo his basketball career out of high school and join the Air Force. While a very noble and worthy story, I was worried that the Mavericks essentially drafted a good PR move than a basketball player.
But James quieted those fears. Despite being extremely raw, James showed good ability in his rookie season, earning some minutes and even a handful of spot-starts. He was a rebounding and shot blocking machine and he finished well around the rim when left open.
His per-36 numbers are pretty staggering: 10.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks per game. Of course, there's no way of knowing if James could actually put up those gaudy numbers if given that extra time. But it was still promising.
Now James can try to build on that promise elsewhere. Let's also not act like the Mavericks just gave away the next Tyson Chandler. James was always a step or two slow on defensive rotations and could be out-muscled pretty easily in the paint. Those fixes could come with time and proper development however.
I do share the worry of DB.com's Michael Dugat. Akognon has NO future in the NBA. If he's on the roster instead of James, this be another chapter in the increasingly heavy book called "The Mavs Suck at Young Talent Development."