With three NBA titles on his resume and a reputation as a defensive-minded rim protector, Cleveland Cavaliers center JaVale McGee has been linked to the Brooklyn Nets as the NBA trade deadline approaches in March.
McGee, who won two titles with the Golden State Warriors alongside current Nets star Kevin Durant, has heard those rumors.
“You’ve seen that out there, JaVale,” said NBA insider Chris Haynes, who recently had McGee on his Yahoo Sports podcast as a guest. “You’d look good catching lobs from Kyrie (Irving), James Harden, KD.”
McGee acknowledged the speculation but mostly downplayed it.
“I guess they (people who are speculating) take my time in Golden State and just plug me in there also, because they’re like, ‘He thrived when he was in Golden State so he definitely will thrive if he was over there in Brooklyn,’” McGee said. “But hey man, I’m just trying to go day by day and make sure I stay focused and focused on myself. If a team comes and gets me, then it is what it is. But yeah, that’s all I can do, is just stay in shape and stay myself and stay bouncy and stay dunking on people. That’s all I can really do.”
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Reports in January Linked McGee To Nets
Two separate reports in January connected McGee with the Nets.
On January 25, KRON sports director Jason Dumas reported Brooklyn and Cleveland to be in “active discussions” about McGee.
A few days earlier, on January 22, longtime Cavs writer Sam Amico reported the Nets could “make a run at acquiring Cavs backup center JaVale McGee soon.”
The 33-year-old McGee is under contract at $4.2 million this season. And with Jarrett Allen now in Cleveland — the Cavs acquired him as part of the four-way trade that landed Harden in Brooklyn — McGee is expendable.
The Nets have one bona-fide center in DeAndre Jordan, who in his age-32 season has become a limited player on either end of the floor. Jeff Green, who has spent most of his career playing as a forward, has also been worked into the mix at center by Brooklyn.
Nets Have Already Taken Measures To Improve Frontcourt
On Monday, the Nets signed forward/center Noah Vonleh, a move aimed at improving their frontcourt depth and interior defense. Prior to joining Brooklyn, Vonleh was most recently with the Chicago Bulls, who waived him in training camp after he tested positive for COVID-19.
A few weeks earlier, Brooklyn inked big man Norvel Pelle, another depth signing. Both Pelle and Vonleh are on non-guaranteed contracts, and the Nets will have to make a decision on them by February 24, when all non- or partially guaranteed contracts become guaranteed.
While both of those players are younger than McGee, the latter is more a true center and boasts some valuable experience. He’s be on the winning side of the NBA Finals in three of the past four seasons, including last year as a member of the Lakers.
What is McGee’s expectation as the trade deadline approaches on March 25?
“Truthfully, I have no idea, man,” McGee told Haynes. “I’m just working hard every day, staying in shape, working on my craft, keeping my mental right, making sure my family’s good, and that’s all I can really worry about. Everything else, it happens how it happens. If I end up being traded or picked up by a contending team, that’ll be a blessing, but (the) Cavs might be a contending team the way we’re playing right now. There’s just so many aspects to how the NBA is to where you can’t really get your hopes up with anything. You never know what can happen. So I don’t really get my hopes up in it. All I can do is stay ready, stay focused, and just make sure that when my time comes, if it comes, I’m ready.”