Timberwolves sign G Mike James

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) - Mike James, the best point guard among free agents, on Thursday signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Terms were not disclosed, but James reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth $25 million, selecting the Timberwolves over the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.

“We are pleased to sign a veteran player like Mike, who brings the ability to score, shoot from the perimeter and run our offense,” Minnesota vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said. “He is a tough competitor who will be a welcome addition.”

The Timberwolves are trying to surround superstar Kevin Garnett with enough talent to make the team competitive - and prevent him from leaving. After reaching the Western Conference finals in Garnett’s MVP season of 2004, Minnesota has missed the playoffs each of the last two years.

James, 31, is coming off by far the best season of his career. With the Toronto Raptors, he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 37.0 minutes, all career highs.

Entering his sixth season, James will move in as Minnesota’s starting point guard alongside veteran Ricky Davis or first-round pick Randy Foye. James shot 44 percent from 3-point range, which will help him play off the steady diet of double-teams drawn by Garnett.

The Raptors were not interested in re-signing James after acquiring point guard T.J. Ford from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wolves are the seventh team for James, who has averaged 11.9 points, 4.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 327 games with Miami, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Houston and Toronto. He was a member of Detroit’s 2004 championship team.

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Updated Thursday, Jul 13, 2006