From the likes of Samardo Samuels and Craig Brackins, to even NBA D-League M.V.P. Andrew Goudelock, a handful of intriguing young guns who have previously gotten a taste of success in the NBA have already signed on to play internationally next season.
The allure of cashing in on a more lucrative contract overseas is obvious, but for Damion James, continuing to keep the NBA dream alive is a more pressing matter.
Calling playing in the NBA D-League last season a "tough decision," James said in an interview with RidiculousUpside.com, "I know I'm an NBA player. I told my agent I would stick around and hopefully get a call-up."
Donning a Bakersfield Jam uniform, James not only earned himself an NBADL All-Star nod this past year, but also helped his team rise atop of the D-League standings and secure a first place finish by the end of the regular season.
But in between achieving some minor league success, James did in fact receive an NBA call-up. As luck would have it, he returned to the NBA surrounded by a few familiar faces, too.
Having played for the Nets from 2010-12, James was no stranger to the team when he briefly re-joined the organization in January.
Upon drafting him, the Nets had seen potential in James and hoped that he could become a nightly contributor. Injuries prevented the swingman from truly going on to establish himself, but by plucking him from the D-League midseason, Brooklyn proved James was still one to peak their curiosities.
Though he only appeared in two games during his ten day contract, James' defensive prowess was proven to be trusted by the Nets at a rather crucial point. In a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matchup with the rival New York Knicks, James was inserted into the game for the first time with just seconds left on the clock. Brooklyn thrust him into the game to defend J.R Smith, who had the opportunity to tie the game up with a last-second three-point field goal attempt.
Needless to say, James contested the shot well, and his team went on to win 88-85.
"Fortunately, I was able to get a call-up last season." James added. "But unfortunately, it didn't work out. The Nets already had a great team, and Gerald Wallace came back healthy. It was great just to play through the whole season though. I went through the whole season without getting hurt. I proved to people I'm still the same guy from college that everyone was raving about. I just want to go out there and keep playing ball."
Having played in 44 games for the Jam last season, James was quite versatile talent. He averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds,1.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals per contest. James also reflected on the opportunity to play for the Miami Heat during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas earlier this month.
"I felt great. It let me know I can still go out there and compete." the swingman said. "I was very grateful to the Heat organization for the opportunity they gave me."
After employing the likes of James, his Bakersfield Jam teammate James Nunnally, D.J. Kennedy, and Tony Taylor, it should become obvious that Miami is perhaps open to snatching some of the D-League's top talents up to help fill out the roster for next season.
But is that the best possible opportunity for a guy like James? Though he would join a winning squad, minutes may be hard to come by with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh still leading the show.
Even so, James would take full advantage of being able to join a team like Miami. He added, "Oh, man. I just know I'd go about working my hardest and practicing every day. I'd try my best, so whenever the opportunity to play came up, I'd play hard every minute I got into the game."
He continued, "[Summer League] was just a great experience for me personally. You know, I could learn a lot from a guy like LeBron or a guy like Wade. They're great players. I don't really know what's going to happen, but I'm just someone who works hard and hopes for the best."
Not one to address fallback options, James said, "Whenever I get the opportunity, I'm going to make the best of it. I know I'm an NBA player. No doubt about that."
With that in mind, the 25 year old discussed exactly what he can bring to an NBA team. He asserted, "I know I can be one of the best defenders in the NBA. I know I can be a great scorer and rebounder. Those are my goals. I want to be the best rebounder on the team. When I put my mind to something, I do it."
James suggested he wasn't one to back down from a challenge, providing evidence that he's used to guarding premier players. "One of my best friends and someone who's like a brother to me is Kevin Durant," he asserted. "We play together and ball out a lot, so I've got great practice! Kevin's one of the best scorers there is. He just gets me ready, because if I can guard him, I'm ready to guard anybody else in the league."
"Hopefully, I can get a one year deal heading into training camp," James added. "But if not, I just have to go in there and work hard. I was never simply given anything in my whole life, so I don't mind working."