Bernard James close to signing contract

Rookie center Bernard James is expected to sign his contract in the next day or two, according to his agent Happy Walters. The 27-year-old Air Force staff sergeant is the last of the Dallas Mavericks' three picks to sign.

James, a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking star during two seasons at Florida State, finished off an encouraging run at the recently completed Las Vegas Summer League. He averaged 10.2 points on 60.5 percent field-goal shooting and finished fifth in the league in rebounding at 9.0 boards in 26.2 minutes a game. Twice he posted a double-double.

His superior defense was on display with 13 blocks -- eight in the final two games -- the most by any player that played in more than three games. James also came up with seven steals, and at least one in all five games.

When James, the 33rd pick overall, signs his contract, he will become the 14th player locked up on the Mavs' 15-man roster. No. 24 pick Jared Cunningham signed on Saturday. By virtue of being Dallas' lone first-round selection, Cunningham is the only one of the three to have a fully guaranteed two-year contract.

His deal begins at $963,600 as determined by the sliding rookie pay scale. Forward Jae Crowder out of Marquette, the 34th overall pick, signed his deal last Friday. The terms of the deals for Crowder and James aren't known. Second-round picks must negotiate a salary and their contracts are not guaranteed by the collective bargaining agreement.

However, Walters, James' agent, said that his client will have a guaranteed contract for the 2012-13 season.

James could be called upon early to fortify the Mavs' rebounding and paint defense. Dallas signed center Chris Kaman to start and currently have 6-foot-9 veteran power forward Elton Brand and lanky, 210-pound Brandan Wright, more of a traditional power forward, to back up the center position.