JaVale McGee has officially signed his one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
"JaVale changes the geometry of the game,” said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka in a statement. “His unique combination of incredible length and foot nimbleness will allow us to play fast at both ends. His ability to both protect the rim and create angles with rim rolls will present a number of advantages in Coach Walton’s system.”
The two-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors will hope to offer finishing around the rim, rebounding and rim protection. We’ll see if he can actually offer those things, but at the rate he’s being paid, there’s very little risk.
The Lakers’ roster currently sits at 14 with McGee and how they’ll use that last roster spot will certainly be interesting.
On one hand, Carmelo Anthony is the bigger, shinier name and there’s obviously the link between him and LeBron James given their friendship dating back to as early as their rookie seasons and maybe even earlier.
On the other hand, however, the Lakers can’t head into next season with McGee as the team’s starting center and Ivica Zubac as their primary backup with Moe Wagner slated to garner third string minutes. That’s a recipe for disaster.
The Lakers’ options now that Brook Lopez is in Milwaukee are pretty slim and there simply aren’t any centers on the market who are objectively better than McGee. Maybe Channing Frye fits better with LeBron given his ability to shoot, but he’s so bad defensively that starting him just creates another set of issues for that lineup.
One can probably safely assume the Lakers will be monitoring the trade market on centers on expiring contracts to move McGee into a backup role sooner rather than later.
McGee as the team’s backup five makes a ton more sense as he can focus solely on using as much energy as possible in short bursts off the bench. We’ll just have to see how this all plays out, but for the money the Lakers got him for, they could have done a lot worse than someone who was a helpful role player and beloved locker room presence on the back-to-back NBA champions.