14 players in a new system: Mike James

For an introduction to this series, click here.

We begin our series with Mike James, the only player on the team likely to be considered "dead weight."  James' primary value at this point is probably in his $6.5 million expiring contract, which could help a financially-struggling team get further under the luxury tax and salary cap for the 2010 offseason and beyond.  He hasn't posted a PER above 10 and a true shooting percentage above even 49% since 2006/07, and at age 34, he's probably nearing the end.

Of course, that didn't stop him from playing major minutes after being acquired from New Orleans for Antonio Daniels as a part of the trade to get Javaris Crittenton.  With all the injuries in the backcourt, James played 29.7 minutes per game last year, as Tapscott elected to play the "veteran" James over the younger Crittenton for most of the season.  This came despite James offering replacement-level production at best, not to mention a gunning attitude that often bogged down the offense.  When the trade first happened, I assumed James was just filler to get Daniels out of DC and onto a better team, and wouldn't play as much as Crittenton, but that clearly didn't happen. 

Nevertheless, James had his moments, like in the heartbreaking Christmas Day loss to Cleveland, and he's still around for the time being.  So will Mike James earn a spot in Flip Saunders' system?

Why he might: The backup point guard position behind Gilbert Arenas is still pretty shallow, assuming Randy Foye gets a lot of minutes at shooting guard.  Crittenton and James are the only guys there, and with Arenas' injury struggles, you'd think the backup point guard might get a lot of minutes at some point.  James could also be good running off screens and jacking.

Why he might not: James isn't the greatest decision-maker in the world, too often opting to shoot instead of run the offense.  With all the freedom Flip's system gives to the point guard, James' poor decision-making is a huge problem.  He also isn't anywhere close to the defender he was in 2003/04, when he played for Larry Brown. 

My guess: James barely plays.  He's the antithesis of a Flip Saunders point guard and there are simply too many better options around to get the minutes he could get.  The only way I see him playing at all is if Gilbert goes down again, and if that happens, our season is shot anyway. 

I just hope we actually get something out of his expiring contract besides $6.5 million extra to re-sign our 2010 free agents.

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