Game-ready James excited to be back with the Bulls


Feb 14

When last called upon by the Bulls to help fill in when Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson were sidelined with injuries in January, NBA journeyman Mike James did just that.

After signing a 10-day contract with the team Tuesday afternoon, James is back in Chicago and could see action right away against Sacramento as the Bulls begin a six-game homestand.

“It feels good,” James said of returning moments after signing on the dotted line. “It’s an opportunity and I’m thankful that they saw something inside of me that allowed me to come back. I’ve just got to make the best out of the situation. If an opportunity comes to get out there and play, I’ve got to be ready to take full advantage of it. And if not, I’ll be the best teammate I can possibly be.”

It was a quick turnaround for James, who got the call Tuesday morning that he was wanted in Chicago. Hours later, he was on a flight, arriving at the United Center roughly three hours before tip-off.

James said he feels fortunate for another stint at the NBA level, adding that the reason he chose to go back to the D-League after being waived by the Bulls on Jan. 28 was simple: To remain game-ready. Not only will he get the chance to prove that he is, he’ll do so with a group he quickly came to enjoy and respect.

“Everyone plays together and everyone plays hard,” James said of the Bulls. “It’s a close unit and you normally don’t find that with teams. But that’s the blessing with this group. They really enjoy being around each other and playing with each other.”

In three games with the Bulls earlier this season, James averaged 4.0 points, 3.7 assists and 1.0 rebound in 8.4 minutes per game. Against the Bobcats on Jan. 21, he turned in an efficient nine points and 10 assists in 17 minutes of action. The fact that James acquired some familiarity with Chicago’s roster and playbook should make his transition this time around all the more smooth.

“It’s interesting because when you play with another team, all the plays that you learn, you have to forget because it’s time to remember somebody else’s plays,” said James. “We’ll see what happens. I’ll expect the best and prepare for the worst.”

With Rose out again, this time due to back spasms, and shooting guard Richard Hamilton still unavailable, the 6-2, 190-pound guard will likely get another opportunity to contribute. But at the same time, he’s hopeful the reigning NBA MVP returns soon.

“Great guy, humble, one of the best basketball players in the game,” said James of Rose. “Hopefully he can get his body back to 100 percent. Well, you’ll never be 100 percent, but at least 99.9. He’s definitely needed by this team and he brings a whole new dimension to the game when he’s on the court.”

Rose has missed the team’s last two games and will not play Tuesday against the Kings. He visited a specialist on Monday and the Bulls’ original diagnosis of lower back spasms was confirmed. No structural damage was revealed; thus Rose will continue with rest and therapy without a timeframe on when he might return in place.

For now, the Bulls will have James as an option should they need him.

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