James Southerland reportedly signs curious one-year contract with Trail Blazers


James Southerland, after going undrafted out of Syracuse, played for the Bobcats and Pelicans last season.

In his 30 total minutes, I’m not sure he accomplished anything other than confusing everyone about his teams’ nicknames, especially now that the Bobcats are now the Hornets and took the Charlotte history of the Pelicans.

That, and he got an NBA salary.

NBA salaries are great if you can get ‘em, and for a player like Southerland who could fall out of the league at any time, you don’t pass one up.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

I don’t understand, if these terms are accurately reported, why Southerland signed this contract. Sure, he can say he had an NBA contract, but the odds of him actually playing in the NBA next season seem lower as a result of this deal.

Essentially, the Trail Blazers can waive Southerland at any time before the season at no cost. Southerland, on the other hand, can’t leave if he finds another team – in the NBA or a lower league – willing to make a better offer. It’s a one-way deal.

Plus, Portland already has 15 players with guaranteed contracts. The odds of Southerland making the team over one of them are obviously low.

And while he’s tied down, other teams are still filling their rosters. It’s only Aug. 8. Training camps don’t begin for several more weeks. Was it really necessary to sign already?

Maybe the Trail Blazers convinced Southerland another move was coming that would create a roster space he could earn – which, if so, interesting. Otherwise, I don’t get it.

Charlotte Bobcats sign Chris Douglas-Roberts, waive James Southerland


The Charlotte Bobcats’ outlook is changing.

When they signed Al Jefferson this summer, the theory was they would rather be pedestrianly bad rather than historically bad – even if that meant lower lottery odds. I argued Charlotte should go all-in to be totally bad for another season, and that pulling in itself in opposite directions would be counterproductive in the long run.

But in this Eastern Conference, degrees of bad actually matter.

The 10-11 Bobcats have the East’s fourth-best record, and the franchise’s second-ever playoff appearance is a real possibility.

So, offseason moves that were geared toward tanking – like I said, signing Jefferson was a tug in the opposite direction from the overall plan – don’t make as much sense anymore. One of those moves was signing undrafted rookie small forward James Southerland from Syracuse, a cheap option who theoretically had high upside relative to his current production given his youth.

With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor ahead of him on the depth chart, it was always unlikely Southerland would play a significant role this season regardless. And if he were needed, who cared? His low salary and possible future contributions rated ahead of winning right now.

At least that was the thinking before the season began.

But now that that the Bobcats could make the playoffs and Kidd-Gilchrist and Taylor are injured, Charlotte wants someone more capable of helping immediately. That’s not Southerland, who has played just three minutes this season.

So out goes Southerland, who was on a fully unguaranteed minimum contract, and in comes Chris Douglas-Roberts from the D-League.

Douglas-Roberts has averaged 7.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 20.3 minutes per game in four NBA seasons. He’s fine as a back-end rotation player on a bad-to-average team like the Bobcats.

But that experience also makes him more expensive than Southerland considering the NBA’s minimum-salary requirement increase with years in the league. Assuming Douglas-Roberts is also on a minimum contract, he’ll cost Charlotte $2,318 more per day than Southerland would have.

As far as investing in a playoff run, this move rates pretty low. But is signals Charlotte is a little more serious about reaching the postseason than it previously seemed.