For Bernard James, summer is hardly a vacation

Posted Monday, Jul. 07, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Although he’s a free agent with a lot to lose, Bernard James doesn’t think twice about lacing up his shoes and playing for the Dallas Mavericks’ summer league team.

The way James sees it, he’s played sparingly through two NBA seasons. If he fails to get a new contract with the Mavs, at least he can showcase his talents to some other teams during summer league play, which starts Friday in Las Vegas when Dallas faces the New York Knicks at 3 p.m. CDT.

Not even the prospect of an injury, which could interfere with his plans and affect his contract status, is enough to keep James off the Mavs’ summer league roster.

“Knock on wood, but I managed to stay healthy pretty much throughout college and these last two years in the NBA,” James said after Monday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “So I’m not really worried about it.

“I know how to take care of my body.”

To be honest, James’ career has been in flux since entering the NBA as a second-round draft pick — 33rd overall — out of Florida State.

As a rookie, he averaged 2.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 10 minutes of action while playing in 46 games. Last season his numbers dipped to 0.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 4.9 minutes in only 30 games.

James knows the summer league route is his best chance to get a leg up on the competition and prove that he’s worthy of receiving more minutes.

“I feel like contractually it’s the same as the last two summers,” James said. “The first year I wasn’t guaranteed a contract, the second year it was a team option.

“And this year I’m a free agent, so for me it’s the exact same situation. I’m playing for a contract, so that’s the way I’m going to go out there and play. That’s my mindset.”

The 29-year-old James, who spent six years in the U.S. Air Force, knows what he must improve to earn more court time.

“My mid-range jumper and just putting the ball on the floor for more than two-three dribbles,” said the 6-foot-10, 240-pound center. “It’s just a lack of experience, because I haven’t really been in that situation a whole lot.”

Since the Mavs’ season ended in a first-round playoff loss to San Antonio that stretched seven games, James has been working on seeing the floor better when he has the ball.

“When I get the ball and put it on the floor, I’m thinking scoring,” he said. “I’ve got to start looking for other people and passing as well.”

James applauds the Mavs for negotiating a trade that brought back Tyson Chandler, the center who helped Dallas win the 2011 NBA title.

“He’ll definitely be a good anchor for our team,” James said.

Whether James will be back next season as one of the reserves behind Chandler remains to be seen. Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said he wants James on next year’s team.

“I’d like to be here, too,” James said. “But anything can happen. It’s a crazy free agency.”

So crazy that while James’ future in Dallas is in limbo, the Mavs remain in the loop to acquire LeBron James, Chandler Parsons, Luol Deng, Lance Stephenson, Vince Carter, Trevor Ariza, Shawn Marion, Pau Gasol, Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams.

“Whether I stay with the Mavericks or not, [summer league] is a good chance to get some exposure and kind of remind teams of what I do out there and how I can help them,” James said. “So that’s why I decided to go ahead and play [summer league] this year.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
Los Angeles «14Final | Box
Chicago Cubs5
Boston «5Final(10) | Box
Toronto3Final | Box
NY Yankees «5
Milwaukee2Final | Box
Pittsburgh «4
Washington «3Final | Box
Chicago WSox «4Final | Box
Tampa Bay3
NY Mets «5Final | Box
Arizona3Final | Box
Colorado «15
Seattle «10Final | Box
Detroit «10Final | Box
Kansas City1
Cleveland4Final(10) | Box
Minnesota «5
Cincinnati1Final | Box
St. Louis «2
Philadelphia1Bottom 8th | Box
Oakland3@theBallpark | TV: CSN-PHI, CSN-CA
Texas10Bottom 6th | Box
LA Angels2@theBallpark | TV: TXA-21, FSN-W, MLB Net
San Francisco0Bottom 7th | Box
San Diego5@theBallpark | TV: CSN-BA, FSN-SD, MLB Net
Full Scoreboard
Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 3Full Scoreboard
Tampa Bay14Final | Box
Atlanta «56Gridiron Replay
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Detroit TV: FOX
Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
NY Giants TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FOX
Dallas 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Kansas City 4:25 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Denver 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET
Carolina TV: NBC
Chicago 8:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard