LaMarcus Aldridge’s abrupt retirement has provided an opportunity, and the Nets are considering many options. And one that appears to be quickly gaining momentum is guard Mike James.
James is now in New York and is being monitored by both the Nets and Knicks. And, though reports have indicated that Brooklyn is interested in James and in negotiations, Eurohoops and mibaloncesto.com have announced that the Nets and the veteran guard have reached an agreement for the remainder of the season.
“Mike is on a list of guys they’re considering,” a source previously told The Post. However, reports from Europe claim that a deal has been reached, with the New York Times reporting that they are in advanced talks that could conclude by Tuesday.
Whoever the Nets sign will be the team’s 27th player this season, a testament to the kind of season it’s been.
“We’ll do our due diligence as usual and keep grinding away,” Nets general manager Sean Marks previously said about Aldridge’s replacement. “We’ll see what we’ve got. I believe we should avoid jumping to conclusions about what we might need or what we might be missing. We’ll look at every alternative and everyone out there. Clearly, losing a player like LaMarcus is a setback for us. It’s about our adaptability.”
James, who stands 6-foot-1, played for both Phoenix and New Orleans in 2017-18 and was one of Europe’s most prolific scorers. He averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 assists, and a.354 field goal percentage in 27 EuroLeague games for CSKA Moscow this season. However, his time in Russia came to an abrupt and unpleasant end.
James was suspended indefinitely by CSKA — which was once owned by former Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov — in late March after an altercation with coach Dimitris Itoudis. Although he was under contract with the Russian club until 2023, the club allowed him to return to the United States. James’ agent, BDA, tweeted on April 2 that he was scheduled to travel back to the United States the following day to seek NBA opportunities.
James, 30, had previously clashed with coaches. He’d come into conflict with beloved former Spurs assistant Ettore Messina at Armani Milano, who advised the Italian team to relax their guard while winning the EuroLeague’s “Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy” the previous season.
However, the Nets, who are currently without guards James Harden and Tyler Johnson, appear to be on the verge of re-signing James.
In 2017-18, James scored 9.3 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game while playing 32 games for the Suns and four for the Pelicans. His lone meeting with the Nets could have been his finest, as he led Phoenix to an Oct. 31, 2017 victory with 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting, five assists, and four rebounds.
The Nets made no comment, despite leaguewide speculation linking them to former Nets guard Jeremy Lin. Marks was evasive when asked if they would replace Aldridge with a big man or fix their backcourt issues.
“We’re in a pickle right now. You cannot replace LaMarcus, and you will not find another LaMarcus waiting for us,” Marks said. “What we’re going to do is evaluate what we need in terms of rotations and players once James returns, Kevin [Durant] returns, and a couple of other guys get well. I don’t believe that we are obligated to go one way or another, whether it’s a large or a guard. We’ll assess our needs over the next week and make that determination.”
There are important deadlines to keep in mind. Monday was the final day they could use Spencer Dinwiddie’s partially torn ACL as a Disabled Player Exception. It is worth $5.8 million and can be used to sign a player only before the end of the current season.