After a few NBA seasons as a productive starter at center, JaVale McGee saw his role diminish in succeeding campaigns before the Los Angeles Lakers signed him in the summer of 2018 as a free agent. While playing for a team that failed to live up to expectations after missing the playoffs with a 37-45 win-loss record, McGee averaged a career-high 12 points, adding 7.5 rebounds and two blocks per game as the Lakers’ first-string center. But with multiple-time All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins set to wear the purple and gold in the coming 2019-20 season, it seems highly unlikely that the veteran big man will post similar numbers or get as much playing time as he did last year.
McGee was one of eight players mentioned by Bleacher Report in its list of players that should have changed teams in the 2019 free agency period, with the publication opining that the Lakers “panicked” after their top free-agent target, Kawhi Leonard, chose to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. This, according to the outlet’s Mandela Namaste, meant offering new contracts to McGee and some of the other “questionable” players they signed last summer, in order to avoid surrounding Davis and LeBron James with “literal G League talent.”
As further pointed out, the Lakers currently have an “unbalanced” roster, as four of their top five players – James, Davis, Cousins, and Kyle Kuzma – are best utilized at power forward or center. This could make McGee the odd man out in Los Angeles’ big man rotation, but as Bleacher Report sees it, the Lakers could ease the potential logjam by trading the 31-year-old center and his affordable two-year contract to a “frontcourt-needy” team such as the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks.
Per Fansided’s Hardwood Houdini, Al Horford’s decision to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency has left the Celtics with an arguable weakness at the center position. Currently, the team’s most likely starter in the middle for the coming season is recent free-agent acquisition Enes Kanter, who has decent career averages of 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds but is considered a below-average defender and poor outside shooter.
Meanwhile, the Bucks were able to re-sign last year’s starting center, Brook Lopez, who had a career resurgence as he established himself as one of the NBA’s best outside-shooting big men for a team that topped the Eastern Conference in the regular season. Although Milwaukee lost two key big men in the offseason when Nikola Mirotic returned to Europe and Pau Gasol signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, Slam Online noted that the team was able to reload this summer by signing Brook’s twin brother, Robin Lopez, as well as former Phoenix Suns forward/center Dragan Bender.
As of this writing, this year’s offseason has settled down after an eventful month of signings and trades, and most NBA teams are in the process of finalizing their training camp rosters. However, it won’t be surprising if a few more familiar names get moved in the coming months, especially if it’s someone like JaVale McGee, who might not be seeing much action despite coming off one of the better seasons of his career.