McGee brings postseason experience and rim protection to the Nuggets. He picked up a third ring with the Lakers last season, but was shipped to the Cavaliers in the offseason to clear cap space. McGee has been on the trade block for a while. It was a matter of time until a contender picked him up.
Hartenstein has shown some good moments this season, but he was unlikely to be trusted come the playoffs. Cleveland is set long-term at the five with Jarrett Allen, though they could view Hartenstein as a solid backup. The protected seconds aren’t exactly exciting, but any asset is worthwhile for teams in the Cavs’ position.
This trade will spark some trade deadline rumors about the Nuggets. McGee slots straight in as backup for Nikola Jokic. It doesn’t necessarily point to another trade, yet it will make it easier to deal Paul Millsap or JaMychal Green.
McGee fills a need
McGee isn’t going to play big minutes. His role will be minimal in the playoffs, just as it was with the Lakers last season.
This is exactly the sort of improvement around the edges that many contenders are looking to make at the deadline, though. Denver has improved their depth, and having McGee’s size for the non-Jokic minutes could be key against Rudy Gobert, Deandre Ayton or Kristaps Porzingis.
This is just a good trade all-round. Cleveland has pocketed three seconds for taking McGee’s contract off the Lakers. Denver has filled an obvious need without giving up a significant asset or a player who could help them this season.
There are bigger trades to come on as the deadline nears, but both teams should be very happy with this one.