Last season, JaVale McGee was pretty up-and-down for the Los Angeles Lakers, and was pretty visibly frustrated by his at-times-inconsistent role. He didn’t let either of those things stop him from returning this past summer though, especially when the team was able to pair Anthony Davis with LeBron James and immediately become a legitimate title contender.
In a conversation he had with Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register, McGee opened up about what went into his decision to return to the Lakers even after they acquired the best player at his position:
“I was thinking about starting, of course, and also playing with some of the greatest players ever and having the contention to win a championship,” he said. “That’s always on my mind. So I mean I felt like this is the best opportunity for me to possibly start and win the championship out of any other team. I took it.”
Based on this quote, it really does appear that starting was a major priority for McGee, which kind of makes sense given his contract situation. That his desire coincided with Davis’ disinterest in playing the five as much as he has in years past probably made it all the easier for the Lakers to sell McGee on coming back.
Now, where things get interesting is when you consider how much better Dwight Howard has been than McGee, and whether that should maybe warrant a change to the starting lineup — or if that’s even an option that can be looked at based on the agreements in place when McGee signed.
Position battles aside, though, it made perfect sense for McGee to return to the Lakers, and for the Lakers to retain his services. He’s a valuable part of the rotation and does offer an important skillset to the team (he’s currently leading not just the team, but the whole NBA, in blocks).
Yes, he might have found a similar role elsewhere and sure, the Lakers might have had other options, but this was a pretty natural fit given what McGee prioritized in free agency. The quote above just confirms a lot of what we all suspected.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can yell at the author of this article on Twitter @AnthonyIrwinLA. If you want to support more writing like this, you can do so here.