JaVale McGee

Pacific Notes: Mann, Leonard, McGee, Thompson

Clippers guard Terance Mann is seeking more growth in his role with the team this season, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. Mann is entering his third NBA season, coming off a campaign where he averaged seven points and 18.9 minutes in 67 games.

“Just watching him play the last few weeks, the maturity that he brings to the table, the hard work that he brings to the table, how he has improved his shot,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “So, he’s been putting the work in, and it’s paid off. So, we’ve just got to let him continue keep developing.”

Los Angeles will need production from the 24-year-old this season with Kawhi Leonard still rehabbing a partially torn ACL. The Clippers drafted Mann, a Florida State product, No. 48 overall back in 2019.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Speaking of Leonard, the two-time NBA champion is ahead of schedule in his rehab, Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated reports. Leonard underwent surgery in July to repair the injury, but no concrete timetable has been offered by the Clippers. He was averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game in the postseason before getting injured.
  • Suns center JaVale McGee brings valued championship experience to a team that reached the NBA Finals last season, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. “To me, he’s a breath of fresh air,” head coach Monty Williams said. “He’s just a good dude and I’ve told him that. I think he had some assumptions about me. So I think his first couple of days, he was trying to do what he thought would allow for him to fit in with me and I had to tell him like, hey man, we don’t do that. Be yourself. We’re just about respect.”
  • Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee examines what Tristan Thompson could bring to the Kings this season. Thompson, a 10-year NBA veteran, was acquired by Sacramento in a three-team trade this past summer.

Pacific Notes: McNair, Warriors, McGee, Suns

The Kings‘ roster may appear imbalanced, but general manager Monte McNair is satisfied with the group that will gather for training camp, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Sacramento has eight guards and five centers, but an apparent shortage of depth at the wing. The team will bring 20 players into camp, assuming a reported deal with DJ Steward is finalized by Tuesday.

The most significant offseason addition was Davion Mitchell, who was taken with the ninth pick in the draft. The Kings already have a crowded backcourt, but Mitchell was a Summer League star and could be a difference maker no matter how he is used.

“This is going to be our team going in,” McNair said. “I look at our roster and I see a lot of versatility, guys who can slide up, slide down and really give us different looks. Talking with (coach Luke Walton), I think we’re excited about the possibilities of different lineups, how we can match up in different situations. I think we actually have pretty good roster balance in the sense of, not traditional thinking, but … I think we can put a lot of different lineups out there to match up with whatever we need.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • James Wiseman and Kevon Looney are the only traditional centers on the Warriors‘ roster and the team may not be in the market for another big man, per Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports By Area“I think the league has changed quite a bit,” coach Steve Kerr said in a recent appearance on Tim Kawakami’s podcast“I know if you look at our team historically over the last six, seven years, we’ve always carried a lot of centers. But think about the last part of last season, we played Draymond (Green) at five so much, we even played Juan (Toscano-Anderson) at five. The league seems to be getting smaller and quicker every single year.”
  • JaVale McGee is the Suns‘ most important offseason addition, contends Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Rankin notes that Phoenix hasn’t had a rim-protecting center to back up Deandre Ayton since he was a rookie, and suggests that McGee can serve another veteran leader in the locker room.
  • The Suns get an A-minus from Zach Harper of The Athletic for their offseason moves. Phoenix kept the core of last season’s Finals team together, re-signing both Chris Paul and Cameron Payne, and added depth with McGee and Landry Shamet.

Pacific Notes: McGee, Kuminga, M. Gasol, Collison

JaVale McGee already has three NBA championship rings and he believes joining the Suns gives him a good chance to get another one, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. McGee chose the defending Western Conference champs in free agency, signing a one-year contract worth $5MM, and he sees his role as a mentor who can contribute valuable minutes as a backup center.

“I feel like my game definitely helps Deandre Ayton in a major way just for the veteran leadership alone,” McGee said. “Also when he gets into foul trouble and having that veteran big to come in that’s 7 foot, block shots, defend, rebound and does all the intangibles that a real big man does.”

McGee has played alongside some elite teammates during his 13-year NBA career, including Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Now he’s looking forward to teaming up with Chris Paul, who transformed Phoenix into a title contender last season.

“Every big man that has ever played with Chris Paul has done well,” McGee said. “I just feel like Chris Paul is definitely the head of the snake and he’s definitely going to lead us to the finals again.” 

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jonathan Kuminga will need to be versatile to see significant playing time as a rookie, Warriors assistant Kris Weems tells Grant Liffman of NBC Sports. Golden State experimented with Kuminga as a small-ball center during Summer League to see how well he could defend post players. “When you are going to draft a kid that size, and knowing that long term he is going to be bigger and stronger, he may grow a couple inches taller, his versatility because of his size gives him a chance to stay on the floor longer,” Weems said.
  • Marc Gasol came close to signing with the Warriors last summer and could emerge as an option later this season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Gasol has returned to Spain after being waived by the Grizzlies, but Slater notes that he’s the type of passing big man who performs well in Steve Kerr’s system and he could be tempted to return around midseason if Golden State is in the title hunt. The Warriors still have their taxpayer mid-level exception available, although using it would result in a significant increase in their luxury tax bill.
  • Darren Collison worked out for the Warriors earlier this month and remains an option for the 15th roster spot, but there’s speculation that he’s hoping for a training camp invitation from the Lakers, Slater adds in the same piece.

Suns Sign JaVale McGee To One-Year Deal

AUGUST 16: The Suns have officially signed McGee, the team announced today in a press release.


AUGUST 2: The Suns have agreed to a one-year contract with veteran center JaVale McGee, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who reports that the deal will be worth $5MM.

Perhaps the premier rim-rolling backup center in the NBA, McGee has made it a habit to know his role for some excellent playoff teams over the last several seasons. He has won two titles with the Warriors and one with the Lakers during his decorated career.

McGee, 33, will be fortifying the front line for a Phoenix club that struggled to defend the rim when starting center Deandre Ayton sat during a playoff run that saw the Suns get to within two wins of the franchise’s first-ever NBA title. After Ayton’s primary backup, Dario Saric, left the Suns’ NBA Finals series against the Bucks with an ACL tear, Phoenix had to get creative in trying to steady the ship whenever Ayton rested or got into foul trouble.

With Saric absent, deep-reserve big man Frank Kaminsky gave the club serviceable minutes erratically, but he is not nearly the defender McGee can be. Saric will likely miss most – if not all – of the 2021/22 season due to his injury, so adding a reliable backup who is a true center was a must this offseason.

The seven-foot journeyman most recently suited up for the Nuggets. Denver was swept out of the playoffs during a Western Conference semifinals series against McGee’s new club, the Suns.

McGee was first dealt from the Lakers to the Cavaliers during the 2020 offseason to make room for new L.A. roster additions. After 33 games with Cleveland during the 2020/21 season, he was shipped out to a better fit, a playoff-bound club in need of a backup center upgrade. In 46 total games last year, McGee averaged 7.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 1.2 BPG, while shooting 51.1% from the field, in just 14.7 MPG.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agency Notes: D. Robinson, Nuggets, Vanderbilt, Hezonja

Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson has told associates that his preference is to remain with the Heat, a source tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Robinson is a restricted free agent and Miami wants to retain him, so he wouldn’t have had much leverage if he wanted to go to a new team, but the fact that he wants to return is good news for the Heat. They’ll be able to keep his small cap hold on their books while they address other free agent business before circling back to finalize a new deal with Robinson.

Here are a few more updates related to free agency:

  • The Nuggets are unlikely to make any major splashes during free agency, as they’ll focus on re-signing their own free agents, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Singer views Will Barton and JaMychal Green as good bets to return to Denver, and suggests that one of Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee could be back too. If the Nuggets are only able to re-sign one of Green, Millsap, and McGee, they’ll shop for another big man on the open market, according to Singer, who notes that Green’s market is expected to be in the $7-9MM range — a previous report stated a $16MM-per-year deal is a possibility for Barton.
  • The Timberwolves had discussions with forward Jarred Vanderbilt about a possible contract extension, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, but those talks went nowhere. Minnesota tendered Vanderbilt a qualifying offer, so the team will have the ability to match any offer he gets as a restricted free agent.
  • Former fifth overall pick Mario Hezonja, who played for Panathinaikos in Greece last season, won’t be returning to the NBA this offseason. As Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando relays, Russian club UNICS Kazan has signed Hezonja to a one-year contract with an option for a second season.

Free Agency Rumors: Lowry, Dragic, Ball, Lakers, DeRozan, McGee

Miami is a legitimate option for Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in free agency, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. A source tells Reynolds that the Heat “have his attention and have had it for a while.”

Lowry will be among the top point guards on the market when free agency begins Monday, with the Pelicans, Mavericks and Sixers all likely to be heavily involved. Toronto may also make a strong bid to hang onto Lowry, who has been with the organization since 2012.

There are plenty of rumors on the eve of free agency:

  • Many teams are expected to be interested in veteran guard Goran Dragic if the Heat turn down their $19.4MM team option and make him a free agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Charania doesn’t identify any of the potential suitors, but says they include “several NBA title and postseason contenders.” Miami has a deadline of 5:00pm Eastern Time today to reach a decision on Dragic, along with a $15MM option on Andre Iguodala.
  • William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic break down sign-and-trade possibilities for the Pelicans involving Lonzo Ball. The Bulls, Pacers, Clippers, Celtics and Wizards are all mentioned as potential sign-and-trade partners.
  • Dwight Howard could return to the Lakers to provide help at center, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times suggests in a free agent roundtable on both L.A. teams. Howard helped the Lakers win a title in 2020 before signing with the Sixers last offseason. Turner names Patty Mills, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Jeff Green, Iguodala, and Dragic as other possible targets. The Clippers may pursue DeMar DeRozan if he’s willing to take a pay cut, Andrew Greif states in the same piece.
  • JaVale McGee would “definitely” consider returning to the Nuggets, stating that a chance to win will be his priority in free agency, as Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post details.

Free Agent Rumors: J. Collins, Lowry, Z. Collins, Forbes, Celtics, More

In his latest rumor-packed article for Bleacher Report, Jake Fischer echoes a Marc Stein report from Friday, writing that John Collins is viewed as increasingly likely to return to the Hawks despite anticipated interest from the Mavericks and Spurs, among others.

Collins’ new deal may exceed $120MM in total value, Fischer notes, though it’s not clear if that’d be for four years or five. Collins’ projected maximum with Atlanta is about $126MM over four years (or $163MM over five), whereas his max with a new team would be approximately $121MM over four years.

Here are a few other rumors on 2021 free agents, including several more updates from Fischer:

  • With the Pelicans, Mavericks, and Heat all expected to make a strong push for Kyle Lowry, the point’s guard ultimate landing spot could come down to which team includes the most guaranteed money in the third year of its offer, says Fischer.
  • The Raptors, Pelicans, Thunder, and Spurs are among the teams known to have interest in big man Zach Collins, sources tell Fischer. Collins isn’t getting a qualifying offer from Portland, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Nets may be the leading candidates to sign free agent sharpshooter Bryn Forbes, according to Fischer, who also names the Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, and Pelicans as teams to watch.
  • Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) hears that the Celtics have a list of about seven or eight top free agent targets, including veteran Spurs guard Patty Mills.
  • Otto Porter‘s representatives have been targeting a mid-level type contract for their client, but that’s probably a long shot unless a front office bids against itself, says J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter links). The veteran forward is coming off a four-year, $106MM+ deal.
  • The Nuggets are expected to add a backup center in free agency, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post, who tweets that a new deal with JaVale McGee is one possibility to address that spot.

Free Agent Rumors: Mavs, Lowry, Kawhi, Knicks, Dinwiddie, More

While the Mavericks are expected to show interest in free agent point guard Mike Conley, veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein says Dallas’ focus in free agency will be on pursuing Kyle Lowry and attempting to re-sign Tim Hardaway Jr. Reports to date have suggested that Conley is more likely than Lowry to return to his current team, so it makes sense that the Mavs would prioritize Lowry.

According to Stein, the Mavericks were initially expected to wait to see if Kawhi Leonard gave any indication that he was thinking about leaving the Clippers. However, the team has moved off of those plans, says Stein. That’s probably a signal that Leonard is unlikely to depart Los Angeles.

Here are a few more updates related to free agency:

  • At least one key decision-maker in the Knicks‘ front office has “embraced” the idea of signing Spencer Dinwiddie this offseason, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who hears that at least one other club plans to make the point guard a strong offer. Begley also confirms that DeMar DeRozan is among the other free agent guards on New York’s radar, though he says teams monitoring the situation view the Knicks as more likely to go after DeRozan if they’re able to acquire Damian Lillard in a trade.
  • The Suns are among the teams eyeing sharpshooter Reggie Bullock as a possible free agent target, Begley writes in a separate SNY.tv story. The Knicks have “significant” interest in re-signing Bullock, Begley adds.
  • Despite playing a modest role with the Nuggets down the stretch of the season, JaVale McGee is interested in re-signing with the team, two league sources tell Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Singer cautions that the veteran center figures to have multiple suitors on the open market.
  • Rockets guard Avery Bradley is expected to draw interest from multiple playoff contenders if he becomes a free agent, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Houston will have to make a decision soon on Bradley’s $5.9MM team option for 2021/22.

Olympic Notes: Booker, Middleton, Holiday, McGee, Robinson, Top Players

Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are expected to be available to play in Team USA’s Sunday morning opener, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. The Bucks duo joined Booker in Seattle on Friday to take a private plane to Tokyo. The Finals trio won’t get a chance to practice with the team but coach Gregg Popovich would like to play them right away against France.

We have more Olympic-related news and tidbits:

  • JaVale McGee is a much different player than the man he replaced, Kevin Love, on Team USA. That forces Popovich to alter his frontcourt strategy and McGee may be nothing more than an insurance policy against France, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes.
  • Heat wing Duncan Robinson claimed on The Long Shot Podcast that he nearly replaced Bradley Beal on Team USA’s roster, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald relays. “It basically got to the point where like it started to pick up some momentum and it looked like it was going to happen,” Robinson said. Keldon Johnson was eventually chosen as Beal’s replacement.
  • Many of the other teams in the Olympics could threaten Team USA in its quest for gold and Vardon takes a closer look at the other 11 squads and their chances of knocking off the American contingent.
  • Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard head HoopsHype’s Frank Urbina’s Olympic player rankings. Doncic edged out Durant due to the fact he’ll likely put up big numbers for Slovenia. Urbina lists his top 30 players in Tokyo.

Olympic Notes: Grant, Johnson, Finals Trio, Randle, McGee

Bradley Beal won’t be able to participate in the Olympics due to health and safety protocols, but Team USA has Jerami Grant back on the roster, Joe Vardon of The Athletic tweets. The Pistons forward exited protocols and played 12 minutes in the team’s final tuneup, an 83-76 win over Spain on Sunday. Team USA will begin its quest for gold this Sunday against France.

We have more Olympic news and observations:

  • Gregg Popovich and managing director Jerry Colangelo raised some eyebrows when Keldon Johnson was promoted from the Select Team as an injury replacement. The Spurs wing is justifying that decision, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst notes. Johnson supplied 15 points in 17 minutes against Spain. “Keldon Johnson just played a solid basketball game,” Popovich said. “He shot it when he was open and when he did go to the bucket he was very physical.”
  • For the Olympic team’s sake, it would best for the Finals to end with a Milwaukee victory on Tuesday, Vardon writes. Devin BookerKhris Middleton and Jrue Holiday will join Team USA after the Finals are completed and it’s fair to wonder how much they’ll have left in the tank both physically and emotionally. Popovich hopes he can ease them into the Group play. “In some ways, it might depend on if everybody else is healthy, and if they’re not then they got to play,” he said. “We’ve gone over lots of scenarios, but we haven’t figured it out yet.”
  • Knicks All-Star Julius Randle was never offered the chance to join the U.S. team as an injury replacement, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Instead, Team USA opted for role players in Johnson and center JaVale McGee, who gives the team a much-needed shot blocker. “We decided that was the most logical and appropriate choice,’’ Popovich said. “Given the choices we had, (McGee) fit the best.”