JaVale McGee Traded from Lakers to Cavaliers amid Marc Gasol Rumors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist

Los Angeles Lakers' JaVale McGee (7) reacts to a call during the first half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. At right is Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (15). (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are trading center JaVale McGee and a 2026 second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie, the Cavs announced Monday.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, both Bell and McKinnie "are on non-guaranteed deals that the Lakers can waive."

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

The likely outcome is McKinnie is guaranteed his full amount and Bell $600K. To save money, the Lakers would use the stretch provision on Bell ($200K over 3 years). https://t.co/yGWjLFKROW

Moving off McGee's $4.2 million contract for the 2020-21 season freed up the requisite cap space for the Lakers to sign Marc Gasol, who is reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal with L.A., per Woj and ESPN's Zach Lowe.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

The rationale behind the McGee trade is the second year in the Gasol contract. Signing a one-year contract would have been a $1.6M cap hit. Signing a two-year deal and LAL takes on the full $2.6M hit. $1M difference can go along way when dealing with the hard cap.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Sunday that Gasol had narrowed his choices in free agency to the Lakers and Toronto Raptors and that the Lakers were "working on avenues to increase its salary offer."

Those avenues led to Cleveland.

Toronto, which already saw Serge Ibaka reportedly sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, per Wojnarowski, wasted little time addressing the center position. According to Charania, veteran Aron Baynes signed a two-year, $14.3M deal with Toronto, with the second year of the deal a team option.

For Cleveland, the deal essentially grants them a future asset for taking on McGee's contract.

The 32-year-old will also give the Cavaliers a solid backup option for starter Andre Drummond. McGee will crash the boards (5.7 rebounds per game last year) and block shots (1.4 per game), which makes him a nice option for those second-team minutes.

As for the Lakers, the veteran Gasol will improve the team's defense and give them a stretch 5 (38.5 percent from three last year). While McGee is the better shot-blocker, Gasol is a better post and team defender. He'll be the defensive yin to the yang offered by the offensively gifted Montrezl Harrell, which gives the Lakers an interesting one-two punch at center.

It's been a good offseason for the defending champions, who essentially replaced many of their key role players from a year ago (McGee, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, Avery Bradley) with players who are arguably upgrades overall at their respective positions (Gasol, Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews).

They also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Davis will almost assuredly follow suit soon enough. Perhaps they will make another move or two, but they've likely done the bulk of their work and look like the favorites to win the title this coming season.