Why didn’t it work out for Mike James in Washington this year? Why did the quintessential journeyman — nine teams in eight NBA seasons — only get on the court for four games with the lowly Wizards?
Maybe it was the fact he shot just 30 percent from the field this season. No, that’s not it. That he shot just 38 percent last season when he started 50 games? No. That he shot just 33 percent from three this season? No. That he was averaging almost two turnovers for each assists, a long-time problem in his career? No. That his PER of 5.7 screams “off the bench in the D-League?” No.
It was coach Flip Saunders, he told Hoopshype.
Coach just didn’t get along with me. I don’t know whatever the reason was. I don’t believe it has anything to do with basketball because if it had something to do with basketball… I trained hard every day, I practiced well, I did everything I was supposed to do… I didn’t have any answers on why I was in the situation I was put in. I just knew I was in it.
So you think it was personal?
MJ: I don’t know. All I know is it wasn’t basketball. I’m a great locker room guy, I’m a veteran. I’ve been in this league for over nine years and I’m a double-figure scorer for my NBA career. I hadn’t gained any weight. And if you liked me in the past, you would have to like me now. The only difference is I may not be able to do a windmill dunk like I used to in the past. But I can still dunk. It’s tough that I can’t play the game.
He also goes on to blame Saunders for the Wizards poor record.
What I’ve seen of Flip Saunders this season is a coach who would have tried anything to right the ship in DC. He kept shifting lineups because nothing seemed to work. He would have given James plenty of burn if he could have helped, but the fact that a desperate coach kept him on the bench does not speak well of his game.
James says there are other NBA teams reaching out to him right now to add some depth for the final 20 plus games of the regular season (and maybe the playoffs). Although, those coaches may find out James can not help as much as they hoped. Just like Saunders did.