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Mike James asks for release from New Orleans Pelicans to return to Panathinaikos of the EuroLeague

This two-way contract player was never going to spend necessary time in the G-League.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mike James, who was signed by the New Orleans Pelicans on January 13th to a two-way contract, has asked for his release from the team according to David Pick, a noted international basketball reporter.

While at first glance this seems highly unusual, this particular situation is not. James’ days of remaining in New Orleans and earning a better salary were numbered as he was approaching his 45-day limit of remaining on the NBA level. Per rule of two-way contracts, a player must return to the G-League once that ceiling is reached, and with it, enjoy a smaller salary of $75K per season — as opposed to the possible sum of $204K for spending the maximum 45 days with a professional team.

When James signed with the Pelicans, there likely existed a mutual understanding that James would never spend any time in the G-League. Read carefully Shams Charania’s initial tweet regarding the James signing in New Orleans.

Shams observed the length of his NBA eligibility, as though the expectation was James would stay on the Pelicans roster until reaching his 45-day limit.

Also, Mike James had established a very similar agreement with the Phoenix Suns before the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

While James signing a two-way deal gives the illusion that he’ll be spending time in the G League with the Northern Arizona Suns, that’s likely not going to happen.

A source tells Ridiculous Upside that James will begin the first 45 days of the regular season with the Phoenix Suns where he could receive as much as $200,000, the maximum amount allowed for players under two-way deals that just spend time in the NBA. After those 45 days, the Suns will have an option to convert James to a standard NBA contract for the remainder of the season, otherwise he’ll become a free agent.

As we know, James was signed to a standard contract by the Suns once his 45-day limitation was reached. However, Phoenix changed their opinion later in December and released him.

James could have remained with the Pelicans until February 27th and for a total of seven more games, but he has decided against it to join Panathinaikos of the EuroLeague. Apparently, his heart is in Greece — oh, we’re quite versed with that song and dance, right?

The New Orleans Pelicans are now left with Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo as natural point guards. Will General Manager Dell Demps seek to add a third, perhaps in the buyout market, or make due with the remaining duo and rely on a Chris Finch-installed offense that isn’t dependent on a dominant ball handler?