In a surprise — and kind of perplexing move — James Southerland has signed a one-year non-guaranteed deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. The move is kind of strange because the Blazers already have a full 15-man roster of fully guaranteed contracts, so we can assume that Southerland will probably not make the regular season roster, barring any changes from this point.
The signing was first reported Friday afternoon by Real GM’s Shams Charania via Twitter:
Free agent forward James Southerland has signed a 1-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, league source tells RealGM.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 8, 2014
Southerland went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, but earned a training camp invite from the Charlotte Bobcats and ended up making their regular season roster. He ended up splitting time between the Bobcats and New Orleans Pelicans, playing in a total of four games and averaging 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game during that span.
The 6’8 forward spent the majority of his rookie season in the D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, where he averaged 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in 42 games (14 starts). Coming out of college Southerland was known as a sharp-shooter but he really struggled with his long-range shot in the D-League. He finished the season shooting only 32.3 percent from deep, however his overall shooting percentage was respectable at 49.8 percent.
So, why would the Blazers sign a guy who is seemingly identical to one they already have in Dorell Wright? To be honest I’m not really sure and there hasn’t been any release from the team as of yet regarding this signing either. So, what we can do is speculate at this time and assume that they felt like they needed another body for training camp or maybe the team is planning on moving a guy or two before the season starts and they wanted Southerland there as backup or to be part of the deal.
Either way, it also seems strange that Southerland would sign a fully non-guaranteed deal with time still left this off-season to get a partially guaranteed deal from another NBA team or sign a more lucrative deal to play overseas. We can assume again that Portland must have told he and his agent something that peaked their interest enough for them to make this risky choice. I guess we will find out sooner or later — welcome to RipCity James Southerland!