JaVale McGee

Lakers Sign JaVale McGee

JULY 10: The Lakers have officially signed McGee, the team announced today in a press release. The move takes L.A. over the cap, but the team still has its $4.449MM room exception available if it wants to make another signing worth more than the minimum.

JULY 1: The Lakers have reached an agreement on a one-year, minimum deal with center JaVale McGee, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets. McGee will join Lance Stephenson and LeBron James in Los Angeles as part of the Twilight Zone Big 3 You Never Knew You Always Wanted.

Though the frequent Shaqtin’ A Fool honoree gets flak for the occasional on-court blooper, he has actually carved out a valuable bit role for himself in two seasons with the Warriors. His length and athleticism, though not always deployable in today’s small ball era, can impact the tone of games off the bench.

McGee averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for the Warriors last year but saw those rates increase to 6.7 and 3.8 respectively in contests in which he played at least 10 minutes. Even if he serves a similar niche role with the Lakers, McGee’s minimum deal – worth $2.4MM with a cap hit of $1.5MM – is an affordable piece for a franchise that us quickly running out of roster spots.

The Lakers currently have McGee, 21-year-old Ivica Zubac, and rookie Moritz Wagner set to man the five, so we’ll see if they consider adding more support at the position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

L.A. Notes: Leonard, James, Rondo, Rivers

The Spurs continue to seek a high price from the Lakers in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, salary cap expert Larry Coon said in an appearance today on Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link). Sources tell Coon that San Antonio is asking for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first-rounders and the right to swap two other draft choices. “They’re just saying give us everything,” Coon said.

Coon also outlined the Lakers’ remaining cap situation, noting that the signing of Lance Stephenson with the mid-level exception will probably be the final move in free agency after all other cap space is used up.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • LeBron James‘ decision to join the Lakers may give Leonard more incentive to become a Clipper, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports suggested in an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s radio show (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers are turning their attention to next summer for their next big free agent move, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The organization’s emphasis on one-year deals helps explain the odd collection of moves that have come down since James committed to L.A. Sunday night. The Lakers re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, then reached agreements with Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, all on one-year contracts. The team expects to have about $76MM in guaranteed money next summer, possibly less if Luol Deng is waived and stretched, leaving enough to offer another max deal.
  • Rondo, whom Deveney states has wanted to join the Lakers since 2015, could take the starting point guard job away from Lonzo Ball, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. A source tells Amick that the L.A. front office has promised Rondo the chance to compete for a starting spot.
  • During an impromptu interview with TMZ, Doc Rivers explained the decision to trade his son, Austin Rivers, to the Wizards. The Clippers coach called it “the right thing for all of us” and predicts that Austin will excel in Washington.

Free Agent Notes: Stephenson, Tolliver, McGee, O’Quinn

Plenty of teams will have interest in Lance Stephenson once the higher-profile free agents are signed, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The Pacers remain open to bringing back the 27-year-old swingman after declining their team option on him this week. Wolfson lists the Timberwolves, Knicks, Sixers and Lakers as other interested teams, but says there are more.

Stephenson appeared in all 82 games for Indiana this season, averaging 9.2 points per night. He would have made $4.36MM in 2018/19 if the Pacers had picked up his option.

There’s more free agent news to pass along:

  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has talked to Pistons free agent Anthony Tolliver, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). Tolliver shot 44% from 3-point range this season, and Minnesota sees him as a possible replacement for Jamal Crawford. The Wolves also like his locker room presence, which could be valuable if Cole Aldrich doesn’t come back.
  • JaVale McGee has said he wants to return to the Warriors, but he is also getting interest from the Lakers, Pelicans and Thunder, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge. Because of luxury tax concerns, Golden State is unlikely to offer more than a veteran’s minimum contract, while the other teams have more financial flexibility. McGee averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.6RPG this season, but his numbers rose after he became a starter after the All-Star break. This is the third straight summer of free agency for McGee, who has spent the past two seasons with the Warriors.
  • The new contract for Luke Kornet is a sign that Kyle O’Quinn won’t return to the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. He adds that the Sixers are showing “heavy interest” in O’Quinn, who spent the past three years in New York as a backup center.
  • The Knicks are hoping to re-sign Isaiah Hicks, who was on a two-way contract this season, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. New York gave him a qualifying offer last week, making him a free agent and giving the team the right to match any offer. Hicks appeared in 18 NBA games, averaging 4.4 points per night.
  • A scheduled meeting between Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Clippers has been moved from today to Monday, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.

JaVale McGee Hopes To Remain With Warriors

JaVale McGee will be a free agent for the third straight summer, but the Warriors’ center said he doesn’t want to play anywhere else, relays Chris Haynes of ESPN. The 30-year-old has collected a pair of rings during his two seasons with Golden State and he would like to come back for more.

“I haven’t thought about [another team] mainly because, hopefully, in my mind, I’m a Warrior for the rest of my career,” he said. “If that happens, it would be a blessing.”

McGee’s numbers this season weren’t impressive — 4.8 PPG and 2.6RPG in 9.5 minutes — but his production increased when coach Steve Kerr made him a starter after the All-Star break. McGee held that job on and off throughout the playoffs, but turned out to be a difference maker in the Finals. He was 14 of 17 from the field against the Cavaliers, turning in a 12-point performance in Game 2 and a 10-point outing in Game 3.

McGee played on a veteran’s minimum contract worth $2.1MM this season and can expect a similar deal if he returns. The Warriors will be well into luxury tax territory after re-signing Kevin Durant and will take a severe hit with any contract above the minimum.

Golden State has other free agents to address in David West, Zaza PachuliaKevon LooneyPatrick McCaw and Nick Young. Kerr has also expressed a desire for a younger and more versatile bench, so there’s no guarantee that re-signing McGee is part of the Warriors’ plans.

“I don’t know how [free agency] is going to turn out, but it’s going to obviously be a long one, especially with everybody waiting for LeBron [James] and Kawhi [Leonard],” McGee said. “So, you never know what pieces will fall and who needs who. But I want to be back with the Warriors. This is where I want to be.”

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Golden State Warriors

The Warriors may be on the precipice of breaking new luxury tax records but that seems like a suitable trade off for their run as one of the most dominant franchises in NBA history.

Sure, they’ll inevitably need to finesse things with their four core superstars but that doesn’t mean the club can’t still make a handful of responsible moves in the summer of 2018 to make their lives slightly simpler when push comes to shove.

The Warriors issued a pile of short-term deals last summer and may be in position to do so again. At the end of the day, retaining flexibility and not overpaying for players that aren’t business critical will be their top priorities.

Omri Casspi, SF, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.1MM deal in 2017
Casspi has bounced around the NBA over the course of the past nine seasons, occasionally showing glimpses of solid value as a rotation player but his role with the Warriors may be his most relevant yet. While Casspi’s 16.1 minutes per game are the second least of his career (he played sparingly for the Cavs in 2012/13), he’s shown that he’s a competent bit character in Golden State’s title defense and the organization should look to retain that. Casspi can plug into the Warriors rotation when needed, as evidenced by the 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game he averaged in 14 December games, but his modest resume doesn’t demand consistent time or big-time money. It seems like both parties would benefit from his return on another cheap deal but don’t rule out other contending hopefuls trying to poach him away.

Kevin Durant, PF, 29 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $53MM deal in 2017
After taking a discount so that the Warriors could retain players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, Durant will have the chance to turn down his player option and go after a bigger contract now that the team’s other core pieces are in place. Durant is on a short list of players with enough clout to bounce from short-term deal to short-term deal, retaining future flexibility and keeping general managers on their toes but he could also ink a four-year max pact and go about his business. While Durant strikes me as the type of personality that may prefer the latter, he could potentially opt for the former if for no other reason than to give the organization options as they gear up for their forthcoming years-long battle with the repeater tax.

Kevon Looney, C, 22 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2015
The Warriors made the decision to turn down the fourth-year of Looney’s rookie contract because at that point he hadn’t been able to show much value over the course of two injury plagued seasons. Looney has had a bit more of a chance to showcase his skills in 2017/18 but not enough to warrant major free agency interest. The Dubs may be able to bring Looney back on a minimum deal next season if they like the intangibles that he brings outside of game days but there’s no obvious case for it aside from the fact that they’ll need bodies and they know what he brings to the table.

Patrick McCaw, SG, 22 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $1.9MM deal in 2016
The Warriors seem receptive to developing McCaw into a potentially reliable rotation player, as evidenced by their decision to start him six times already this season. To this point in the season, however, he hasn’t exactly flourished when given the opportunity. McCaw’s situation is much like Looney’s. He’ll be a cheap option that they’ve worked with in-house. Given the financial restraints that the front office will be dealing with due to the rest of the roster, they may be happy to retain a 22-year-old that they can at least potentially groom into a reliable rotation player.

JaVale McGee, C, 30 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.1MM deal in 2017JaVale McGee vertical
McGee put forth his most notable season in years when he debuted with the Warriors in 2016/17 but hasn’t replicated that success in 2017/18. Due to matchup issues in the small ball era and the emergence of rookie Jordan Bell, the team just doesn’t need McGee’s energy and length as much as it did in his first year with the team. Considering that the big man isn’t getting any younger, it’s hard to imagine him landing much on the market if all he could manage to yield after last year’s solid campaign was another one-year, minimum contract.

Zaza Pachulia, C, 34 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal in 2017
The Warriors have started Pachulia in all 109 of the games that he’s suited up in over the course of his two years with the franchise but this year his time on the court has dropped to its lowest point since 2009/10. Could that be an indication that the club is open to moving on in 2018? The Dubs gave Pachulia, a dinosaur in today’s game, more money than they needed to last summer but now that finances are even tighter, they may not be so generous. Expect Pachulia in a reserve role for the veteran’s minimum, if he’s even back in the Bay Area at all.

David West, C, 37 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.3MM deal in 2017
West has been an extremely productive role player for the Warriors off the bench in 2017/18, exactly what basketball fans outside of northern California feared when the former All-Star decided to crawl onto the Dubs’ bandwagon in 2016. West has had old-man game since he broke into the league, so regression isn’t exactly an issue. Expect him back playing meaningful minutes with Golden State until he decides to retire.

Nick Young, SG, 33 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $5.2MM deal in 2017
Young is a potent three-point shooter that slots in well with the rest of Golden State’s rotation but does he provide enough to justify what his $5M+ contract will amount to when the luxury tax bill is calculated? The Warriors may gauge Young’s receptiveness to returning on a cheaper deal in 2018/19. If he isn’t interested, expect him to pound the pavement and eventually land somewhere as a hired gun on a short-term deal. If logic prevails, he’ll be a valuable depth piece with the Warriors for years to come… but that might be a big if.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Notes: Curry, Looney, Bell, Young, McGee

Stephen Curry is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and his shooting ability is one of the main reasons why. He obliterated his own record for made three-pointers during his unanimous MVP season two years ago, but he is actually having a better season from a shooting perspective in 2017/18.

Micah Adams of ESPN breaks down Curry’s field-goal selection and how the 29-year-old is compensating for shooting a lower percentage from beyond the arc compared to his 2015/16 season by taking better overall shots. Instead, Curry’s field-goal percentage (49.5%) and free-throw percentage (91.8%) are among the best totals he has posted in a season.

All told, the Warriors‘ point guard has averaged 27.7 PPG, 6.5 APG, and 5.3 RPG in 31 contests this year. Curry missed 11 games earlier in the sesason due to an ankle sprain.

Check out other news from the Warriors organization below:

Bucks Discuss Trade For McGee Or Pachulia

In their search for help at center, the Bucks have talked to the Warriors about JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia, reports Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

Rookie Jordan Bell has moved ahead of McGee in Golden State’s center rotation and now is considered a co-starter along with Pachulia depending on the matchup. McGee hasn’t been pleased with his playing time or the fact that he was only offered a minimum contract last offseason and wasn’t promised a starting job. Thompson said he hasn’t been a problem off the court, but the Warriors are willing to move him if they can get value in return.

Pachulia would be tougher to part with, as coach Steve Kerr considers him the team’s best defensive big man. Thompson believes the Bucks also asked about Bell, but were probably turned down right away.

The teams seem like natural trading partners with the Warriors having five centers on their roster and Milwaukee needing frontcourt help after parting with Greg Monroe in the Eric Bledsoe deal. Golden State has been moving toward smaller lineups with Draymond Green and Kevin Durant seeing time in the middle, so McGee is reduced to playing in garbage time. The 29-year-old is averaging a career-low 8.1 minutes through 29 games.

The Warriors will probably seek guard help in any deal, Thompson adds, as Stephen Curry‘s injury has exposed a lack of depth at point guard and a need for another outside shooter. The team will eventually need to open a roster spot for Quinn Cook, who is on a two-way contract and is expected to surpass his 45-day NBA limit.

Warriors Notes: Kobe, Jones, McGee

Despite being the defending NBA champions and holding the league’s second best record so far this season at 23-6, the Warriors will be playing second fiddle during tonight’s contest against the Lakers in Los Angeles, reports Monte Poole of NBCS Bay Area.

Of course, tonight marks the Lakers’ retirement of iconic jersey numbers 8 and 24 in recognition of legend Kobe Bryant, who helped lead the Lakers to five championships during his illustrious 20-year career.  And given the circumstances, Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr is willing to allow his team the freedom to leave the locker room at halftime to witness the ceremony.

I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment. Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

There’s more from the Bay Area:

  • The Warriors are happy with the development of young big man Damian Jones, reports Melissa Rohlin of The Mercury News. The Warriors announced that they recalled Jones from the Santa Cruz Warriors on Sunday, one day after assistant coach Mike Brown watched Jones record 20 points, 15 rebounds and six assists against the Westchester Knicks.  Asked to discuss Jones mindset on his lack of role with the team thus far in his career, Kerr stated, “He’s handled it really well. He’s such a quiet guy, he doesn’t say a whole lot. It can’t be easy to be gone from the main group so often, but he understands. We talked to him about it. The most important thing is for him to play and gain experience.”
  • Teams are going to continue selling their second round picks to the Warriors (and other teams) so long as the price and circumstances are right, as Danny Leroux relays in a mailbag piece for The Athletic. Leroux also tackles questions regarding the futures of Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw, among others.
  • After being an integral part of the Warriors championship run last season, JaVale McGee has seen his playing time significantly drop so far this season. The reduction in minutes is the result of the way the game is changing, reports Mark Medina of The Mercury News. Despite the challenge for McGee, he appears to be accepting of his new role. “He’s handling it well. I think JaVale has been really good as far as understanding things haven’t gone his way and staying with it,” Kerr said. “He works hard in practice. I tell him all the time things will turn. They always do.”

Pacific Notes: Ball, Durant, McGee

The Lakers have no intention of taking Lonzo Ball out of the starting lineup anytime soon, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. The rookie guard has struggled mightily with his jump shot over the course of his first month in the league but the franchise remains committed to his development.

He’s our starting point guard,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.

The much hyped Lakers point guard – who cut his hair earlier today(!) – has averaged 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game so far this season but is just .303 from the field and .230 from beyond the arc.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Among several excellent aspects of an interview with Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Warriors forward Kevin Durant spoke candidly about the Thunder and their move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. An under reported asset that the Bay Area offered Durant in free agency is a similarity to the Pacific Northwest town in which he broke into the league. “To be part of a franchise moving, no player, especially a rookie, expects that,” Durant said. “I didn’t even think that was in the cards. Obviously, I wasn’t in on the deal, nobody asked me any questions. So as long as we got to play somewhere, it was cool with me. I was 19, I didn’t know the effect a team moving had on fans or a city. As I got older, I realized how huge a team leaving a city is, how devastating that must have been for the fans. Every time we’d go to the West Coast, we’d see Seattle jerseys and you’d start to realize that was a huge, huge part of people’s lives.
  • A solid debut with his new franchise could boost Greg Monroe‘s trade value, Cody Cunningham of Phoenix’s official team site writes. The big man dropped 20 and 11 in his first game for the Suns since coming over alongside draft picks in the Eric Bledsoe trade.
  • The Warriors haven’t been featuring JaVale McGee heavily in their regular rotation, opting to play him only if matchups call for his length and athleticism. “You definitely have to humble yourself a little bit, just because we’re competitors. We want to play,” McGee told Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “But you can’t complain on a winning team. I understand if we were losing and I’m thinking, ‘I can help.’ But we’re a part of a winning system.”

Pacific Notes: Ingram, McGee, Deng

Could Brandon Ingram be the next great Lakers closer? Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register thinks so. On a roster filled with promising young player and role-playing veterans, Ingram could be uniquely qualified to step into the role that Kobe Bryant vacated in 2016.

He definitely has the ability and confidence to make those kind of plays,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of Ingram. “He definitely wants it. One hundred percent he wants it. Some people, they say they want it. But in their eyes you can tell they’re just saying it because they’re supposed to say it. Brandon, he truly wants those types of moments.

Teaford cites Ingram’s role in the Lakers’ recent comeback victory against the Wizards, chipping in with 11 points in the fourth quarter and tapping in the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation.

In four games as a Lakers sophomore, Ingram has averaged 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Despite his emergence as a valued rotation piece for the Warriors last season, JaVale McGee has been used sparingly thus far in 2017/18. Anthony Slater of The Athletic caught up with the center about his usage. “I don’t feel like I’ve been struggling the first few games,” McGee said. “I haven’t really played a lot, so there’s really no room to struggle. But even from last year, I don’t play a lot during games that go small. All I can really do is work on the things that keep me from playing a lot.
  • In a preview of what could be their backcourt of the future, Kings fans saw Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox connecting in the final minutes of their loss to the Pelicans Thursday. “I can talk to him and tell him about the mistakes I made,” Bogdanovic told Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee. “And hope he can learn without having to make those mistakes.”
  • Having seen just 13 minutes of action so far this season, it’s safe to say that Luol Deng is at the bottom of the Lakers‘ depth chart. An ESPN report states that the veteran will likely continue to draw DNP-CDs.