Bernard James out to prove his worth

LAS VEGAS -- It was only the first game of the summer league, but Dallas Mavericks center Bernard "Sarge" James put together an all-around game. In the team's opener against the New York Knicks, James recorded a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and had four blocked shots in a 76-64 loss.

"I thought I did decent," James said of his performance. "I probably could have done better on defense. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good game."

Summer league coach Kaleb Canales seemed pleased with his starting center's performance.

"I've probably got to look at the tape, but my initial gut from the game is that he gave us what he needed to give us," Canales said. "He usually does on both ends. For him specifically, that's what he's going to be for us. He's going to be consistent and solid for us on both ends."

James is in an interesting position this summer. He has been with the Mavs for two seasons now, but he's a free agent. The market might be relatively light for him, considering Dallas had to let James go to create room for guard Monta Ellis and there were no teams that claimed him off waivers. James knows that he has to use the time in Las Vegas as an opportunity to showcase his ability.

"I just want to go out and play hard," James said. "And I just want to win, really. That's the goal. I feel like if you have that mindset everything else will take care of itself. You'll get a contract and you'll stay in the league. So, that's really the way I'm going about it."

James said his goal coming to Las Vegas was to show more of a post-up game and an ability to expand his mid-range shooting. While he didn't show a lot in terms of working in the paint, James did show some range as he hit a couple of perimeter jumpers.

"I've improved with that. I definitely feel more comfortable shooting that," James said. "I think I took four or five jumpers from the perimeter. I just feel more comfortable shooting it and knowing when I should shoot it."

James will have at least four more games in the desert to prove that someone should offer him an NBA contract.