As part of the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn, the Nets gave up center Jarrett Allen, sending him to the Cavaliers, while the Cavs gave up Dante Exum, a 2022 first-rounder and a potential 2024 second-round swap in the bargain. That left Cleveland with an abundance of big men (JaVale McGee and Andre Drummond are also on hand) while Brooklyn is lacking at the 5.
Now comes word that the Nets and Cavs are “in active discussions” around a deal for McGee, according to KRON sports director Jason Dumas. According to Dumas, the Nets also have interest in Cavs big man Kevin Love.
JaVale McGee Would Fill Nets’ Center Hole
It is unclear what the Nets could offer the Cavaliers for McGee, who is averaging 8.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 16.8 minutes over 14 games. But it is clear why they would want him—the team has, essentially, only one center, DeAndre Jordan, who is a limited offensive player and, at age 32, has slipped defensively, too.
The Nets have used forward Kevin Durant as a de facto center, and have been forced to press rookie second-round pick Reggie Perry into duty, too. McGee is also 32, but does have some good karma around him—he won championships in three of the past four years, two with the Warriors and last year with the Lakers.
The Lakers dumped McGee in the offseason, sending him to Cleveland with a second-round pick to make room for the signing of Marc Gasol.
With Allen on board, there is no need for McGee in Cleveland. The Cavs could look to move Drummond, too, but with a $28.7 million salary, he would be a challenge. With no available draft picks on hand, the Nets would probably have to give up guard Landry Shamet and another player to make a deal for McGee work.
It would be the same challenge if Brooklyn wanted to bring in Love, who is owed $31.3 million this year, and has $60 million left on his contract over the next two seasons. Love, Irving’s former teammate in Cleveland from 2014-17, has played just two games this season with a calf strain, and it would be almost impossible for the Nets to trade for him under NBA rules.
Nets Signed Stopgap Center Norvelle Pelle
The Nets did sign 27-year-old journeyman Norvelle Pelle last week, and Pelle will be able to join the team once he clears COVID-19 protocols. Pelle is a 6-10 shot-blocker who averaged 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 points and 1.3 blocks in 9.7 minutes over 24 games last season with the Sixers.
But that is the only NBA season for Pelle, who has bounced from the G-League to stops in Taiwan, Lebanon and Italy. He can provide some rim-protections for the Nets, but he is not a long-term answer in the middle for the team.
Even with the Pelle signing, the Nets have two open roster spots and have until two weeks from the completion of the Harden trade (January 30) to fill them.