JaVale McGee

Lakers Trade McGee, Future Second-Rounder To Cavs

NOVEMBER 23: The deal is official, according to a press release from the Cavs. Cleveland acquires McGee and the Lakers’ second-round pick in exchange for McKinnie and Bell, as expected.

NOVEMBER 22: The Lakers are set to send center JaVale McGee and a future second-round draft pick to the Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). This will create flexibility below the hard cap to allow the Lakers to sign veteran center Marc Gasol.

Chris Fedor of tweets that the second-round pick will be from the 2026 NBA draft. Fedor reports in a separate tweet that small forward Alfonzo McKinnie and big man Jordan Bell will be headed to Los Angeles in the deal.

McGee has a $4.2MM cap charge for 2020/21, which the Cavaliers have no way to absorb without sending out some salary themselves. McKinnie ($1.76MM) and Bell ($1.76MM) are currently on non-guaranteed deals, but their salaries will have to be at least partially guaranteed to make the deal work. The Cavs have to send out about $2.34MM and non-guaranteed money doesn’t count for salary-matching purposes.

Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that the likely outcome will see McKinnie being fully guaranteed, while Bell gets about a $600K guarantee. The Lakers could then waive and stretch Bell to create a little extra flexibility.

McGee started at center for most of the Lakers’ 2019/20 championship season, but was supplanted in the starting lineup during the last two rounds of the playoffs by the more mobile Markieff Morris or Dwight Howard most of the time, with Anthony Davis shifting from power forward to center to close out the Heat in Game 6 of the Finals. McGee is a three-time champion thanks to tenures with the Warriors and Lakers.

It doesn’t sound as if the Cavaliers view McGee as a mere salary dump. The team wanted a veteran big man with experience coming off the bench behind Andre Drummond, according to Fedor, so McGee will replace Tristan Thompson on the roster. Cleveland continues to explore possible free agent deals involving the mid-level, with a focus on backup point guard, per Fedor.

Luke Adams contributed to this story. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks, Lakers Exploring JaVale McGee Trade

As the Lakers look to clear some salary to strengthen their offer to free agent center Marc Gasol, the Knicks have emerged as a potential trade partner in a possible deal involving JaVale McGee, sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Due to their hard-cap constraints, the Lakers are probably limited to only offering Gasol a one-year, minimum-salary deal for the time being. Clearing some salary would allow them to offer Gasol more than the minimum if the Raptors are willing to do a sign-and-trade. It would also allow them to offer a two-year minimum deal (which carries a higher first-year cap hit), as John Hollinger of The Athletic notes (via Twitter).

If the Knicks are going to take on McGee’s contract using their cap room, they’ll need some sort of sweetener. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype points out (via Twitter), New York got two second-round picks from Utah for taking on Ed Davis‘ $5MM expiring deal and would likely seek a similar haul for accepting McGee’s $4.2MM expiring contract.

The Lakers, who will probably only make a deal if they have an agreement lined up with Gasol (or another free agent), would have to decide how much they’re willing to pay in extra assets to upgrade from McGee at center.

The Knicks have been prioritizing 2023 second-round picks in trades this week, having already acquired – or agreed to acquire – three of them. The team reportedly expects that to be the first draft that high school players will once again permitted to enter, which would make for an extra-talented class. I imagine if a McGee deal gets done between the two teams, the Knicks may well come out of it with the Lakers’ 2023 second-rounder.

Marc Gasol Narrowing Focus To Lakers, Raptors

Free agent center Marc Gasol is narrowing his focus to the Lakers and Raptors, according to Shams Charnia of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Warriors were among the teams also expressing interest in Gasol, but it sounds as if they’re no longer in the mix. The Mavericks also aren’t considered a probable destination anymore, Charania adds, noting that Dallas had been in the running up until now (Twitter link).

The Raptors hold Gasol’s Bird rights and are well positioned to offer him a lucrative one-year deal for 2020/21. Toronto should be especially motivated to bring back its starting center, having lost Serge Ibaka to the Clippers. If both Gasol and Ibaka depart, 2019 second-rounder Dewan Hernandez would be the only center under contract for the Raptors, since their other big man – Chris Boucher – is a restricted free agent.

While the Raptors can offer Gasol more money for next season, the Lakers are working the marketplace to try to find a way to improve their offer, per Charania. For the time being, they’d be limited to the veteran’s minimum, since they’ve already signed Wesley Matthews using the bi-annual exception and intend to use the full mid-level exception to Montrezl Harrell.

If the Lakers can shed some salary – and if the Raptors or Clippers are willing to cooperate – a sign-and-trade deal for either Gasol or Harrell could help keep the MLE open for the other. Los Angeles is exploring trading away JaVale McGee and his $4.2MM cap hit, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Should the Lakers snatch Gasol away from Toronto, the Raptors may shift their attention to a Lakers free agent, according to Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that Toronto has “strong interest” in forward Markieff Morris.

JaVale McGee Picking Up 2020/21 Player Option

Lakers center JaVale McGee will opt into the final year of his contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the big man is exercising his $4.2MM player option.

McGee, who will turn 33 in January, was the Lakers’ starting center during the 2019/20 regular season, averaging 6.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.4 BPG in 68 contests (16.6 MPG).

One of several Lakers who had an option decision, McGee was expected to take the guaranteed money rather than test the free agent waters. Thus, it won’t significantly alter the team’s cap outlook. With Anthony Davis‘ $32.7MM cap hold and others to account for, the team would have been over the cap whether or not McGee had opted in.

McGee has found a home in L.A. over the last two seasons, establishing himself as a starter who plays limited but valuable minutes. He’s likely to fill the same role next season.

And-Ones: Option Decisions, Avdija, Draft, Onuaku

With the NBA season over and 2020’s free agent period approaching (eventually), John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at all 43 team and player option decisions that must be made this fall, evaluating which options are likely to be exercised and which will be turned down.

While Anthony Davis and Jerami Grant are viewed as the only locks to decline their respective player options this offseason, Hollinger identifies seven more players who he thinks will opt for free agency: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Wesley Matthews, Austin Rivers, Willie Cauley-Stein, and James Ennis.

With the exception of Caldwell-Pope, McGee, and Cauley-Stein – who is technically earning slightly above the minimum – those players are all on minimum-salary deals, so it won’t be a surprise if they explore the open market, even if they have to settle for another minimum contract. However, KCP’s case should be interesting — his $8.49MM option for 2020/21 is close to mid-level territory, but he could still probably do better after an impressive showing in the NBA Finals.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks take a look at next steps for the NBA, including what next season’s schedule might look like and when roster moves might resume. While there’s currently a freeze on transactions, team executives confirmed to ESPN that the moratorium will be lifted and trades will be permitted before the draft on November 18.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jeremy Woo of have each published updated versions of their mock drafts for 2020. Both draft experts have Anthony Edwards going No. 1, but O’Connor has a surprise pick at No. 2, penciling in Deni Avdija. League executives expect Avdija to “enter the mainstream conversation as a top-three pick” in the coming weeks, according to O’Connor.
  • Former NBA big man Chinanu Onuaku has reached an agreement to sign with Croatian team KK Zadar, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Onuaku was the 37th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but didn’t see much action in two seasons with Houston, appearing in just six total games before being traded and waived.

Markieff Morris To Start In Place Of McGee

In tonight’s key Game 4 of the Lakers‘ second-round series against the Rockets, forward Markieff Morris will start in place of center JaVale McGee, according to Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link).

Thus, the Lakers will continue their pivot towards a smaller, more shooting-friendly starting lineup that they began in the second half of Game 3, where Morris first got the starting nod over McGee.

Morris, a 38.6% three-point shooter on 3.9 attempts this season for the Lakers and Pistons, will help the Lakers better match up against a smaller, quicker Rockets squad that has kept the previous three games of the series highly competitive, though the Lakers currently lead 2-1.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets that Morris was barely a part of the rotation during the Lakers’ 112-97 Game 1 defeat to Houston, playing just nine minutes. He is averaging 9 points and 4.5 rebounds across the last two games, both Lakers victories. After being cleared to play with no minutes restrictions following a left ankle injury suffered in Game 2, McGee logged just six minutes during LA’s 112-102 Tuesday night Game 3 win.

Morris will start alongside a shooting-heavy lineup of guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, and All-Star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Pacific Notes: Clippers Arena, Randle, McGee, Kawhi

The Clippers‘ forthcoming Inglewood arena has received the final approval necessary from the Inglewood City Council, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). The team, which announced a joint deal to buy the publicly-owned property on the arena site, now has the go-ahead to begin building its new arena in 2021.

In a press release on the club’s official site, the team notes that construction is scheduled to commence next summer. The Clippers are expected to move from the Staples Center, an arena they share with the Lakers, to their new home ahead of the 2024/25 season.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams has added Brian Randle to his staff as an assistant coach, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Randle is a former player development coach for the Timberwolves.
  • Lakers starting center JaVale McGee has been cleared to play in tonight’s pivotal Game 3 against the Rockets, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). McGee turned his left ankle in Game 2 of the Lakers’ series with the Rockets and was limited to just eight minutes of action. An MRI on the ankle came back negative. Mark Medina of USA Today tweets McGee will not have a minutes restriction tonight. Medina adds that bench guard Dion Waiters will not be available for Game 3.
  • Meanwhile, Rockets forward Danuel House Jr. will be unavailable tonight for personal reasons, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Feigen adds (Twitter link) that Houston center Tyson Chandler will also miss tonight’s game for personal reasons, but that both players remain on the NBA’s Orlando campus.
  • Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard‘s stellar Game 3 performance showcased just how valuable he is as a two-way player, and why he was the top priority for Los Angeles in free agency ahead of the season, notes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Leonard was named to the 2020 All-Defensive Second Team earlier this afternoon.

Western Notes: McGee, Jokic, Conley, Pelicans

The Lakers could be without their starting center for Game 3 against the Rockets on Tuesday, according to the latest injury report on JaVale McGee is listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. Reserve shooting guard Dion Waiters is considered doubtful due to a sore left groin.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is listed as questionable for Game 3 tonight against the Clippers due to a sprained right wrist, according to an ESPN report. Jokic had 26 points and 18 rebounds in the Nuggets’ Game 2 win on Saturday. The Nuggets made no mention of the sprain after the game. The Nuggets will make a final determination on his status after warmups, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.
  • The Jazz hope that Mike Conley settles in after a choppy first season with the organization and that will result in a longer playoff run, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Conley is expected to opt into the final year of his contract, worth $34.5MM, for next season. The point guard will be more comfortable in his second year with the club after learning a new system and reworking his game to fit the Jazz’s style, Todd adds.
  • The Pelicans could use a defensive wing and another shooter. The Athletic’s William Guillory explores some of the draft prospects who might fit the bill with the No. 13 overall pick.

Lakers Notes: Rondo, McGee, Waiters, LeBron

Rajon Rondo turned in an up-and-down performance in Game 1 of the Lakers‘ second-round series against Houston, but head coach Frank Vogel expressed confidence after that game that Rondo would be an important contributor for L.A. in the series. On Sunday, the veteran point guard proved Vogel right.

As ESPN’s Dave McMenamin details, Rondo contributed 10 points, nine assists, and five steals in the Lakers’ Game 2 win, with the team outscoring the Rockets by 28 points during his 29 minutes. While Rondo is on a minimum-salary contract and ranked eighth on the team this season in minutes per game, he’s viewed as a leader on and off the court for the Lakers.

“He has such an impact,” Vogel said of Rondo. “His impact on our team is measured in swag and just the confidence that he brings to our group.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Lakers center JaVale McGee left Sunday’s game due to left ankle pain and didn’t return, per McMenamin. Vogel said after the game that McGee would be undergoing an MRI on his sore ankle.
  • Within the same story, McMenamin notes that shooting guard Dion Waiters also left the game with an injury and didn’t play the rest of the night. Waiters was diagnosed with a strained groin, and his status going forward remains up in the air.
  • Within a notebook piece on the Lakers/Rockets series, Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register explores how the two clubs have been using “scout teams” in practices to try to prepare for their opponent’s star players.
  • Asked on Sunday why his children haven’t joined him in the NBA’s bubble, Lakers star LeBron James explained that – despite being located within Walt Disney World – the campus isn’t especially kid-friendly. “My kids are too adventurous and they love to do so much stuff,” James said, according to Mark Medina of USA Today. “There’s nothing for them to do here. Go outside, come back in, go outside, come back in. They can stay in L.A. They’re great.”

Lakers Notes: Rotation, McGee, LeBron, Rondo

The Lakers have wrapped up the top seed in the West, but they haven’t looked like the team they were before the break, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Saturday’s loss to the Pacers dropped L.A. to 2-4 in Orlando, and the problems go beyond a mediocre record.

Avery Bradley opted out of the restart, leaving a huge hole in the perimeter defense, and Rajon Rondo was lost to thumb surgery. Newcomers J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters were both left on the bench against Indiana, while Danny Green sat out the game with a sore hip. That meant Alex Caruso started, with Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker seeing back-up minutes.

“This is a different situation than any situation I’ve been in, so it’s kind of hard to say, ‘OK, playoffs are right around the corner, this is where we’re gonna be.’ We’re literally in a bubble. It’s kind of hard to explain,” LeBron James said after the game. “Obviously you want to be playing great basketball going into the playoffs. It’s exactly what you should be doing and what you want to do.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Center JaVale McGee was back on the court Saturday after being benched in Thursday’s loss, but he turned in another sub-par performance with five points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, observes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. McGee hasn’t been the same since the hiatus, and the starting lineup hasn’t been effective in the five games he has played in Orlando. “That lineup has struggled, but I don’t feel like JaVale has been off his game,” said coach Frank Vogel. “In fact, when we had our intrasquad scrimmages before scrimmages against other teams, we were keeping stats on all our scrimmages and he was shooting 85 percent in those games. So I’m not worried about his play at all.”
  • James was one of the first players to speak out against the idea of playing in empty arenas when the idea was being considered in March, but he’s adapting to the atmosphere at Walt Disney World, notes Mark Medina of USA Today. James calls it a “very weird dynamic” and said he hasn’t played without fans since before high school. “I definitely love playing in front of the fans. The fans are what make the game,” he said. “Without the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am today. To all the fans out there that come watch me play, I miss you guys and hopefully someday I can get back to that interaction.”
  • The Lakers are hopeful that Rondo can rejoin the team sometime in the first round of the playoffs, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).