Blazers and Hornets should pursue trade for JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee Cavs
JaVale McGee is expected to be traded before the deadline. Photo from Cavaliers Nation.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to trade JaVale McGee. Cleveland acquired Jarrett Allen in the James Harden trade – McGee is now surplus to requirements.

McGee has been made available in trade talks. Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Larry Nance and Allen will get the vast majority of frontcourt minutes. Drummond and Love could be dealt in the future too, of course, but McGee appears to be Cleveland’s priority for now.

On 16.9 minutes per night so far this season, McGee has been getting roughly the same workload as he did on the Lakers last season. His 7.2 shots is a marked increase on the 4.8 from 2019/20, but his effective field goal percentage has plummeted.

McGee remains one of the game’s best rebounders, albeit in low minutes. He’s 10th in the NBA in rebounds per 36, just ahead of DeAndre Jordan and former Cav Tristan Thompson.

McGee’s $4.2 million contract makes him very tradeable. Cleveland may consider packaging McGee with Kevin Porter Jr, who the Cavs were trying to deal over the weekend. A few teams may be interested in both players, though McGee’s one year of team control makes more sense for contending teams, while Porter is a project for non-contenders.

Cleveland isn’t going to get much of a return for McGee. Receiving a second-round selection to take his contract from the Lakers means the Cavs are under no pressure to trade McGee, but they would be delighted to add another second-round draft pick by flipping McGee in the coming weeks.

Potential McGee trades

The Charlotte Hornets have started the season well enough to have reasonable play-in ambitions. Cody Zeller is injured. Bismack Biyombo is starting at the five. McGee would be an upgrade on both – he can provide a lob threat for LaMelo Ball to run pick-and-roll.

Charlotte isn’t an obvious team to make a trade for a veteran rental. P.J. Washington is fine to play smallball five on occasion. The Zeller and Biyombo rotation is okay given their ambitions. Having not made the playoffs since 2015/16, though, the Hornets could send a second round pick, maybe even with protections, and take McGee to improve at the five. He won’t play big minutes, but his presence will make James Borrego’s life a little bit easier, particularly in Zeller’s absence.


McGee is a better offensive player than Biyombo. Charlotte’s current starting center has never been above 13 points per 36, and he’s just over 10 on the season. McGee’s is at 17 per 36 this season – his vertical spacing would make life easier for the Hornets’ perimeter players.

The Blazers are perhaps a more obvious fit for McGee. Jusuf Nurkic‘s injury has left the Blazers relying on significant minutes from Enes Kanter, something an already shaky defensive team cannot afford. McGee is less of an offensive force than Kanter. He would provide rim protection and serviceable post defense which Portland is alarmingly lacking.

McGee is a good stopgap while Nurkic is sidelined. He’s a compromise from Kanter’s offense-only approach while still providing elite rebounding. He can operate as a lob threat with Dame Lillard just as he did with Steph Curry.

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About Sam Cox 606 Articles
Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He's still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play.

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