JaVale McGee played the best game of his young postseason career Tuesday night in Los Angeles, recording 21 points, 14 rebounds, and a pair of blocks against a tough Lakers frontcourt, sending the series back to Denver. The performance led to some speculation about the offers McGee could receive in free agency this summer, but the Nuggets don't intend to let him get away. GM Masai Ujiri told Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post that McGee is "100%" a player the team intends to lock up long-term.
"Our intent was to get JaVale for the future, not just for three months," Ujiri said, referring to the blockbuster deadline deal that brought McGee to Denver.
McGee will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, so the Nuggets will have the opportunity to match any offer sheet the 24-year-old signs. A report earlier this season suggesting McGee would seek an average salary of $14MM was met with jokes and skepticism at the time, but the center's play since joining the Nuggets has certainly improved his stock. When I previewed McGee's free agency on Monday, I predicted an average annual salary of about $8-9MM, but that estimate may end up being light.