Report: JaVale McGee to Be Traded to Nuggets from Cavaliers Amid Nets Interest

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

Cleveland Cavaliers' JaVale McGee drives against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers are finalizing a trade to send veteran big man JaVale McGee to the Denver Nuggets, according to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Cavs will receive center Isaiah Hartenstein and two future protected second-round picks in return. Wojnarowski noted the second-round picks coming to Cleveland are a 2027 unprotected pick and a 2023 pick that's protected through No. 46.

Cleveland acquired the 33-year-old from the Los Angeles Lakers in November in a move that largely helped the NBA champions shed salary. Considering he is on an expiring contract and earning a modest $4.2 million salary, it seemed a matter of time before he would be shipped elsewhere.

Jarrett Allen's arrival from the Brooklyn Nets created a further logjam at center for the Cavs.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported Feb. 15 that Cleveland was planning to rest Andre Drummond with an eye toward getting him out the door.

Even when taking the Drummond situation into account, flipping McGee ahead of the trade deadline made the most sense, especially as the Cavs' 10-game losing streak in February erased all of the optimism they generated from an unexpectedly strong 9-9 start.

The Nevada product has experienced a bit of a renaissance in the second half of his NBA career. His two years with the Golden State Warriors showed he could be an effective role player on a championship team, and he collected a third ring last season with the Lakers.

McGee has continued to provide value inside for Cleveland. Through 33 games, he's averaging 8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 15.2 minutes on the floor. According to NBA.com, he's also holding opponents to 45.5 percent shooting inside six feet and 46.2 percent inside 10 feet.

The 7'0" rim protector is still prone to the occasional misfire.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

"I don't know what he was gonna do with it, but he was headed to the hoop!" JaVale almost had it 😅 https://t.co/FeaKdcaOzX

He doesn't do that with enough frequency to seriously hurt his team, though.

Between his salary and the trade capital it required to get him away from the Cavs, McGee is a low-cost solution to strengthen Denver's frontcourt. He doesn't single-handedly raise the team's championship ceiling, but this is one season in which proven depth is a luxury for any roster.

He should take over as the primary reserve behind All-Star center Nikola Jokic for the Nuggets. Hartenstein, who's averaging 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 30 games this season, occasionally filled that role before the swap.