The two big questions:
1. Would James sign a multi-year deal?
2. Whom would the Suns drop to make room?
With James completing his 45th and final allowable NBA day on a two-way contract yesterday, we got an answer to No. 1.
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic:
Mike James contract conversion is just a standard one year deal for the minimum with Phoenix. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 7, 2017
James – who earned $235,008 on his two-way deal – will now be on a new one-year, $580,607 contract with $50,000 guaranteed (already paid with the two-way deal).
He could have signed a new contract with Phoenix. Similar to second-round-pick negotiations, he probably could have gotten more guaranteed by locking into a long-term deal at or near the minimum.
Essentially, James is betting on himself. The 27-year-old will be a free agent next summer, and the Suns can make him restricted by extending a qualifying offer projected to be worth about $1.5 million (minimum salary plus $200,000).
James looks like a borderline second-string/third-string point guard. To maximize his salary, he might need to sign with a bad team that without a better rotation-level backup. Like Phoenix.
The Suns will address James one way or another next summer, but for now, they must clear a roster spot. They already had the maximum 15 players with standard contracts. Waiving Derrick Jones Jr. appears to be the simplest solution, but the athletic 20-year-old has plenty of potential. Does McDonough have something else up his sleeve?