Utah Jazz notebook: Free agent James wants to play for Jazz

Published: Friday, July 30 2010 4:10 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson has made it well-known — to local and national reporters — how excited he is to play for the Utah Jazz since being traded here from Minnesota.

Seems he isn't the only NBA player hoping to plant some new roots in the Beehive State.

Mike James, a veteran free agent guard, apparently would love to fill in one of the Jazz's ample open roster spots, according to ESPN's Chris Sheridan.

"Mike James wants to play for the Utah Jazz," Sheridan posted on his Twitter account late Thursday night. "Told me so at golf outing (Bethpage Red Course) for his charity foundation."

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor and James' agent were unable to be reached for comment.

James turned down offers to play European ball in Italy and Spain after taking a buyout from his contract with the Washington Wizards last spring, according to Sheridan.

The ESPN expert also tweeted that James "Admires Jazz org" (presumably an abbreviation for organization).

James started 50 of 53 games for the Wizards last season, averaging 9.6 points and 3.6 assists with 36.7 percent shooting from 3-point land.

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound guard has played for nine teams during his nine-year NBA career. The 35-year-old has career averages of 10.5 points on 42-percent shooting (37.8 percent on 3s), 3.6 assists and 2.3 rebounds.

According to James' personal website, mikejames7.com, the "three-point threat and power guard" was the first-ever undrafted player to average 20 points, a feat the Duquesne product accomplished in 2005-06 with Toronto.

Descriptions of James on his website bio dubbed him as "often underestimated" and "the triumphant underdog."

With the additions of Jefferson and Raja Bell, the Jazz roster currently includes nine players with guaranteed contracts. The NBA requires teams to carry at least 13 players.

Negotiations are ongoing with three-year center and restricted free agent Kyrylo Fesenko, who received a qualifying offer from Utah earlier this offseason. Sundiata Gaines and Othyus Jeffers both have nonguaranteed contracts with the Jazz for 2010-11, and second-round pick Jeremy Evans is expected to battle for a roster spot this fall as well.

DODGE BARRAGE: Registration begins Sunday for the annual charity dodgeball tournament sponsored by the foundations of Deron Williams, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Price.

The tournament will feature 96 teams consisting of eight to 10 players each. It will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

The cost is $500 per team.

Information is available at utahjazz.com, and questions should be e-mailed to DodgeBarrage@PointofHopeFoundation.org.

FRESH NEW LOOK: The Jazz announced a few of the changes that are taking place during their $4 million EnergySolutions Arena renovation. The building will include five new pubs, an expanded Fanzz store on the main level, a season ticket-holder club with a sit-down restaurant and two interactive areas on Level 5.

The Jazz are also remodeling their locker room to better meet the needs of the players, coaches and trainers.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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