Zion Williamson further cemented himself as a rising NBA superstar by going toe-to-toe with LeBron James on Sunday night, and JaVale McGee appreciated the performance so much that he wanted a souvenir from it. Williamson was happy to oblige, though it was a bit awkward that he didn’t ask for anything in return.
McGee, an 11-year NBA veteran, approached Williamson after the game to ask the rookie for his jersey. Players typically swap jerseys in situations like that, but Zion apparently didn’t need a souvenir from McGee.
Zion just gave JaVale his jersey and left pic.twitter.com/RtYlAeYVSf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 2, 2020
Williamson obviously meant no disrespect to McGee, and it’s possible the 19-year-old just didn’t think to ask for McGee’s jersey. Of course, fans love ripping on McGee for some of the blunders he has made in the past, so plenty of people got a kick out of Williamson not bothering with the jersey swap.
Williamson had 35 points compared to LeBron’s 34, but the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans by a score of 122-114. LeBron and Zion seemed to feed off one another, and LeBron showed the former Duke star some love after the game.
JaVale McGee is not too worried about Dwight Howard’s arrival back in LA.
In an interview this week with Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet, the Los Angeles Lakers center said that he was excited to be paired with the three-time Defensive Player of the Year but added that he still expects to start.
“I feel like [Dwight] is gonna fit great,” said McGee. “I feel like we have similar games, and the fact we can have a 1-2 punch right after each other, coming in after each other. I don’t think that’s gonna be real good for other teams at all … Two bigs that can defend the rim, run the floor, and dunk. So I’m excited.
“I started last year, so I mean, I wouldn’t expect anything less,” McGee added when asked about his expected role. “But it’s definitely not up to me, it’s up to the coach. But I don’t plan to show them anything other than I’m the starting center for the Lakers.”
Indeed, McGee, 31, started 62 games for the Lakers and put up averages of 12.0 points (a career-best), 7.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. The 33-year-old Howard, meanwhile, averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in his last healthy season with Charlotte in 2017-18.
While the Lakers will be implementing a brand-new system under head coach Frank Vogel, McGee’s high-energy play seems like the better fit in the starting lineup next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Howard also has a much shorter leash than McGee, so the latter has even more reason to feel confident.
JaVale McGee may have a chip on his shoulder entering next season.
McGee responded on Twitter to a remark from ESPN personality Max Kellerman, albeit a week later.
Kellerman criticized the Los Angeles Lakers’ free agency moves after missing out on Kawhi Leonard. He jabbed them for spending $12 million on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8 million) and McGee ($4 million).
Know what Jerry West doesn’t do? Spend 12mil per year of cap space on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and JaVale McGee.
— Max Kellerman (@maxkellerman) July 6, 2019
McGee responded a week after the tweet was sent, saying he had taken a mental note.
Mental note taken max https://t.co/bAKC8I6AEM
— Javale McGee (@JaValeMcGee) July 13, 2019
If McGee is going to use this to drive him, that will be welcomed by Lakers fans.
I actually agree with Kellerman on this one. Those two players are hardly remarkable for $12 million.
With NBA free agency so close, it’s no secret where most of the attention will fall. The destinations of the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, and Klay Thompson will potentially dictate where the league’s centers of power are for the next half a decade, if not longer.
However, there are many more free agents beyond just the big names. A number of important role players are hitting the market this offseason. They won’t be as exciting as some of their counterparts, but as the Toronto Raptors would tell you, you can’t win an NBA title without some valuable role players — the likes of which will be out there this summer.
Here are 10 under-the-radar NBA free agents who could end up having a big impact on the teams they sign with.
10. Taj Gibson
The 34-year-old forward is no longer going to be a top frontline player for any teams, but Gibson was one of the better players on the Timberwolves over the last two tumultuous years. Gibson consistently averaged a double-digit point total, knows the game well, and is an intelligent player to have around. It’s possible Gibson could return to the Timberwolves in a mentor role, but he’d be a solid second unit player on a contender.
9. JaVale McGee
Yes, really. McGee had the best season of his career last season thanks to the extended minutes the Los Angeles Lakers ended up giving him. Everyone knows that McGee is a useful but never great center at this stage of his career, but as that stint with the Lakers proved, he can contribute when given the chance. That goes for contenders, too — after all, McGee was a valuable reserve for the Golden State Warriors teams that won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
8. Terrence Ross
Teams in need of bench scoring could do far worse than Ross, who shot over 38 percent from three-point range last season for the Orlando Magic. He averaged 15 points per game in just 26 minutes per night, and he’s capable of catching fire and taking control of an offense for minutes at a time. Ross’ overall game is limited, and when he’s not scoring, there’s not a lot else to him, but when he is, he’s hard to stop. There’s huge value in that.
7. Garrett Temple
Temple doesn’t have any single great aspect to his game, but the versatile guard also doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses, either. He can score, but not at a high level. He can pass, but he’s not dazzling. He’s a good, but not elite defender. None of it matters, because when you put all those factors together, you have a very useful reserve player who can give you good minutes on a nightly basis — the exact sort of player a lot of contenders would love to have.
6. Ed Davis
Davis has always been a favorite of contending teams — the Portland Trail Blazers got a lot of mileage out of him. It’s largely down to his rebounding prowess, which very much counts as his specialty. He’s not a starter, and his game is very limited, especially in today’s NBA. But even the best shooting teams need someone who can come in off the bench, grab some boards, bang around in the post, and contribute some good minutes. That’s Davis in a nutshell.
5. Trevor Ariza
If there’s any doubt as to how important Ariza can be to even a good team, the Houston Rockets definitely missed him this season. He may be a classic three-and-D wing player, but Khris Middleton is about to get a lot of money for doing the same thing, so Ariza’s value should not be underestimated. He was a poor fit on non-contenders last year, and the best spot for him would be on a team that expects to be in the hunt for an NBA title. He could be hugely vital there. Just ask the Rockets.
4. Dewayne Dedmon
Dedmon is never going to win any awards, but centers who can shoot from the perimeter have never been more important in the NBA. Dedmon’s newfound skill made him a 38.2 percent three-point shooter last year, while simultaneously adding 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s a solid defender and, perhaps even more importantly, he’s now capable of spacing the floor. There are some pretty good teams he could be a starter on. He’ll be a popular name this summer for that reason.
3. Seth Curry
Steph’s little brother put himself more on the map with a strong postseason with Portland, so he might not be quite as under-the-radar as he once was. Unlike his older brother, Curry isn’t much of a playmaker, and he won’t really be an impactful defender, but when you can shoot 45 percent from three-point range, there is a prominent spot for you in the NBA. Curry profiles best as a bench scorer who can come into games, knock down threes, and give defenses a lot to think about. If used properly, he will become an enormously valuable player.
2. Kevon Looney
Much will be written about the futures of Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant this summer, but the Warriors will absolutely miss Looney if he departs, too. He worked himself into a key player for the team, typically off the bench, with scoring and rebounding ability. He was so important to their playoff run that he may have priced himself out of a return. The attention will primarily lie with his more high-profile teammates, but Looney may actually be in line for a larger role with a different team this summer.
1. Danny Green
Kawhi Leonard isn’t the only free agent the Raptors are faced with losing this year. There is, after all, a reason that Green has been an important part of two NBA champions. He had his best three-point shooting season of his career with Toronto last season and heated up just in time to play a significant role in the NBA Finals. He doesn’t actually do much else on offense other than shoot, but it’s easy to ignore those limitations when he shoots as well as he does. He’s regarded as a good teammate and a quality glue guy, and while his eventual signing won’t steal the headlines, it could make a huge impact on whoever he lands with.
Jae Crowder was called for a technical foul and JaVale McGee a foul after the two engaged in a shoving match on Wednesday night.
The two got tangled up under the basket after a shot attempt by the Los Angeles Lakers midway through the third quarter. McGee appeared to hold Crowder, who shoved the Lakers big man to get separated.
JaVale gets a foul for holding Crowder who gets a tech for pushing him away pic.twitter.com/91rW8ZWLMT
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 28, 2019
— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) March 28, 2019
Crowder had a strong shooting night for the Utah Jazz, who were up by double-digits when the altercation took place. McGee recorded his fourth straight double-double for the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers are making a few changes to their starting lineup.
Tyson Chandler will start in place of JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over Josh Hart for their game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Sources: Lakers also planning on starting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for Josh Hart. So KCP and Chandler in, McGee and Hart to the bench. https://t.co/3ayCawT6Hy
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 16, 2019
Chandler has only played nine minutes over the past three games. The 36-year-old big man is averaging 3.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in under 19 minutes per game with the Lakers this season.
Caldwell-Pope has only started four games this season. He is averaging 9.9 points per game.
The Lakers have lost 6 of 9 games without LeBron James and are hoping this will help turn things around.
The illness that has kept Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee away from the team was pneumonia, according to a report.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, McGee spent three days in the hospital with pneumonia after being admitted with a 104 degree fever. He was tended to by team doctors and discharged Saturday. He will be with the Lakers for Sunday night’s game, but will not play, with the team considering him day-to-day.
McGee began to feel the effects of the illness on Dec. 13. He attempted to play on Dec. 14, but he was dehydrated and an attempt to get him an IV failed.
“I feel a little better,” McGee said Sunday. “Surprisingly, I didn’t lose any weight. All I can do is get healthy and get back in shape as soon as possible so that I can contribute towards making us a playoff-contending team.”
Amazingly, this is not the first bout with this illness the Lakers have dealt with this season. McGee seems to have made his way through it and is just trying to recover enough strength to play again.