Role for Mavs in 2013-14: James reported to camp as the fourth center on the roster. He should get some opportunities early in the season while Brandan Wright recovers from a shoulder injury, but James will have to earn meaningful minutes.
James, 28, a former Air Force sergeant in his second NBA season, needs to prove he can be a consistent energy player. He’s always going to be limited offensively, so he needs to be an impact player as a rebounder and defender to be a contributor. He averaged 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes in his limited playing time as a rookie, when he appeared in only 46 games, including 11 starts.
What happened this summer?: The Mavs waived James as they scrambled to create as much salary cap as possible and re-signed him to a minimum deal once they finalized Monta Ellis’ contract. The fact that no other team claimed James is evidence that he isn’t seen as anything more than a replacement-level player by front offices around the league.
What does the future hold?: James will be a restricted free agent this summer. He’s likely to end up signing another minimum contract or take his career overseas.
Bottom line: James is expected to be a bit player. Any significant contributions from him would be a bonus.