As we're reminded constantly, the everyday grind for an NBA D-League athlete can be quite the exhausting one.
In addition to the constant travel, overnight trips, and more, the fact is prospects are in the minor league for the very opportunity to break into The Association. With the new year now upon us, such an opportunity could turn out to be for as little as ten short days.
But for some of these said prospects, just the chance to potentially get themselves noticed is enough. For someone like RGV Vipers guard Chris Johnson, who just signed with the Grizzlies, those same ten days may be more than they've ever had. Even that short stint is considered a golden opportunity.
For some of the more experienced players in the D-League, however, things may be different. After spending parts of the last two seasons with the Nets, Damion James undoubtedly has been using the NBADL to prove he's prepared to contribute on a nightly basis and display some more staying power in The Association instead.
Such an opportunity hasn't presented itself just yet, apparently. After signing a 10-day contract and returning to the Nets earlier this month, our friends at NetsDaily.com reported that the third-year forward would not be receiving a second contract from the team at this time. He'll return to the D-League and rejoin the Bakersfield Jam.
It's always interesting to note that even though a bevy of NBA teams own direct minor league affiliates and often employee an extension of their own staff to hand-pick, discover, and nurture young prospects, the franchise still may opt to look elsewhere when it comes to signing an available D-League player for their big league team.
Needless to say, with Gerald Wallace slowed by an injury earlier this month, the Nets didn't pluck anyone from their D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor. They still managed to bring a familiar face back into the fold in James, however.
Perhaps the forward is indeed closer and is on the cusp to returning to the NBA full time. But more importantly, it wasn't difficult for him to fit in with Brooklyn when there was a void necessary to be filled. James stepped right in, and was praised by the coaching staff for his left over familiarity with some of the team's playbook.
James not seeing his contract renewed this week should not necessarily be considered a knock on his game, nor his progress. He was signed to fill a certain void, and now that Wallace is healthy again, that void is once again filled by someone else.
James played all of less than sixty seconds through two games in his week plus back with the Nets. Coincidentally enough, however, he was inserted into Brooklyn's lineup during a pivotal few seconds of their MLK Day victory over the Knicks. James was trusted to defend New York's J.R. Smith and contested the final shot of the game---one that would have otherwise tied it for the Knicks.
Whether or not the forward was brought in simply to serve as extra legs during Wallace's absence is debatable, but he'll nevertheless return to the Bakersfield Jam and the D-League grind. Hopefully his latest stint with the Nets will at the very least, provide him with a bit more relevancy again so he can snag another opportunity sooner than later.