- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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In an attempt to convince the Dallas Mavericks that he can help them, veteran point guard Mike James is joining the D-League's Texas Legends in time for Saturday's game against Tulsa, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
After playing for 10 NBA teams, most recently last season with the Chicago Bulls, James has cleared the D-League waiver process to become eligible to sign with the Legends as a free agent.
James arrived in town Thursday with no guarantees from the Mavericks, sources said, but the 37-year-old has been lobbying them to let him audition for a roster spot by playing in a few games with the Legends to prove he can help stabilize their backcourt.
James used the D-League as a springboard to reignite his NBA career last season as well, joining the Erie BayHawks in time for the annual 16-team D-League Showcase this past January and getting the call from the Bulls to replace the injured Derrick Rose after just one game with Erie.
NBA teams can start signing players to 10-day contracts as of Saturday. The 2013 D-League Showcase, meanwhile, is next week in Reno, with James eligible to be called up by any NBA team if he plays well. Even though James will be playing for the Mavericks' D-League affiliate, Dallas holds no exclusivity in terms of James' NBA rights.
James averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists for the Toronto Raptors in his breakout season of 2005-06 and then negotiated seriously with Dallas in free agency before opting to join the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Mavericks have been looking to strengthen their options at point guard all season thanks to the ups and downs endured by projected starter Darren Collison and a lack of progress from holdover youngsters Dominique Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois. The Mavs also waived Delonte West in November after employing West for one season and had veteran Derek Fisher on board for only nine games before the team and Fisher mutually agreed to part company before Christmas.
The Mavericks were pleased with Fisher's contributions, sources said, and have not ruled out the concept of signing another veteran point guard down the road. Yet it's no given that Dallas will go that route again, especially if Collison can build on his recent success over the past five games.
After waiving Fisher, Dallas called up high-scoring swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts from the Legends to fill its 15th and final open roster slot.
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann