Bernard James had a strange beginning to his 2013-2014 campaign followed by a quiet season on the deep Maverick bench. After playing just one game in summer league last summer, James was recalled to Dallas where he was waived by the Mavericks as they attempted to make room to sign Monta Ellis. The hope was that James would escape waivers and give Dallas a chance to resign the second year big man. Luck favored Dallas as James went through the waiver process unclaimed and James signed a one-year deal.
Due mainly to necessity, Sarge saw action in 46 games in his rookie season, even managing to start 11 times. James rejoined a much deeper team this past season and saw his role and minutes decrease dramatically. After seeing nearly 10 minutes per game in 2012-2013, Sarge saw only a handful of minutes all season, playing a hair under 5 minutes in each of the 30 games he appeared in.
As a result, it's challenging to draw many conclusions from such a small sample. In an attempt to shore up the defense, coach Rick Carlisle repeatedly fine tuned his line ups and rotations, particularly with the big men. Unfortunately, Sarge never got a chance to join the rotation and was instead used only in emergency situations or in mop up duty at the end of blow outs.
Assuming the resigning of Dirk Nowitzki is a foregone conclusion, he, Brandan Wright, and Samuel Dalembert make up part of the big man rotation next season. Where does James fit, assuming Dallas looks to bring in one, if not two, free agent F/C's?
Bernard James turns 30 years old on October 31. This is at once a blessing and a curse. It's a curse, mainly because at that age, he likely will not garner enough experience to turn into even a marginal rotation forward/center. Despite his limited exposure to basketball, his explosiveness is set to decline as well. His age can be an asset, particularly with this Mavericks team. With a cast of veteran players, someone as mature as James fits the locker room mold. He's a professional and despite my general desire to see Dallas pursue some younger assets, there's real value in having a stable presence at the end of the bench.
James is a bit of a frustrating player to start the offseason speculation with, because we don't know either sides' intentions. I'm sure Bernard James would like to make as much money as he can before his NBA career comes to a close. I'm sure the Mavericks would like a professional, lengthy, and cheap defensive presence on the end of the bench. The question then becomes roster and cost. The fact is, James is probably very low on the priority list, available only if he's not pursued by other teams while the Mavericks look to shore up their roster.
- Potential deal: 1 year, under $1,000,000
- Chances he remains a Maverick: 35%
Tim Cato advocated for Bernard James to be put in the starting lineup in January, when Sam Dalembert had his oversleeping issues and couldn't be counted on reliably.
The Mavericks sent Sarge down to the Texas Legends with Jae Crowder and Shane Larkin, and he had himself a night, tying a career-high with 38 points. Rebecca Lawson provides the first hand account.