Mike James is "ecstatic"While Kevin McHale wouldn't comment, Mike James' agent Bill Duffy confirmed that the Wolves had agreed on a deal that would send James to Houston in return for Juwan Howard. Duffy said that they "expect for the deal to be officially consummated as early as tomorrow."
James has three years left on his four-year, $23.4 million deal. Howard has two more years at $14.3 million left on his three-year, $20.65 million contract. A 15 percent trade kicker built into James' deal would bring his salary for next season up to $6,166,530, within 10 percent of Howard's scheduled salary of $6,883,800, allowing the deal to be a straight-up swap.
From Richard Justice/Houston Chronicle:
This is a trade the Rockets and Timberwolves have discussed since February. It could have been done then, but Jeff Van Gundy was reluctant to tamper with his club's chemistry.
Duffy commented on the deal:
"It's interesting how things work out," Duffy said, adding that James and his wife have been planning to build a house in the Houston area. "He's ecstatic."
"Even Houston thinking about me is a blessing but until I see it on the ticker I won't believe it. I'm so excited. It would give me that chance to retire in Houston," James told the television station.
From Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle:
"This is great news for me," said James, who still lives in Houston in the offseason. "I just think this is going to be a great look for me.
"It always feels good to be wanted in the game. For me to be able to be with a team, be traded by the team, have a chance to go back and not go back, then go back to the team that you wanted to be with, that normally doesn't happen. I'm very grateful."
According to Rick Alonzo/Pioneer Press, James told the team at the end of the season that it would be better for him to leave:
"I don't believe I'm a significant piece of the puzzle, so I just feel I should move on," James said of his comments to the team at the time. "I'm grateful for people like Kevin McHale. Kevin McHale's been nothing but stand-up with me. He's one of the only guys who stayed in my corner. He worked with me on the situation, and I appreciate him for that."
In the meantime, James seems to be looking ahead:
"I'm coming in with a whole new attitude," James said. "I'm going to change my number, if I can. I'm going to change to No. 7 [from No. 13], because it's God's perfect number. I'm going to come in with a whole new approach to life, to everything, the way I approach the game of basketball itself. One thing I'm going to do is have fun. I'm going to smile."