Before the Los Angeles Lakers go star chasing this summer, they have to decide which of their internal free agents are worth keeping around, and no one made a stronger case for themselves this past season than JaVale McGee.
Through 75 games with the Lakers, McGee averaged a career-high 12 points on 62.4 percent shooting from the field, all in just 22.3 minutes per game. He also tallied 7.5 rebounds and two blocks per game.
The only players to average at least 10 points on 60 percent shooting from the field, five rebounds and two blocks per game this season were McGee and Defensive Player of the Year finalist Rudy Gobert.
With the exception of the time he spent recovering from pneumonia, McGee was really, really good, and the Lakers would be lucky to have him back. Fortunately, it sounds like he’d be happy to be back.
During an interview with FS1’s “Undisputed,” McGee was asked if he would like to return to Los Angeles next season, and he reiterated that he would, on the condition that it’s the best situation for him:
“I mean, hopefully. I mean, that’s definitely a possibility. But right now, obviously I’m a free agent, so I don’t really know. But I love L.A. L.A. was beautiful for me. I had my best averages, my best season playing alongside LeBron. Even my career-high game, 10 of my assists were from LeBron. That’s kind of crazy if you really think about it. It’s definitely a blessing being able to play for L.A., but whatever is the best opportunity for me personally, I’m going to take it.”
At 31 years old, McGee will likely be looking to cash in on one last long-term deal this summer. Given his production and price tag in comparison to other centers that will be available this summer, the Lakers should be the team to give him that contract.
McGee might not be the floor-spacing center Lakers fans want to see with James, but he’s efficient, athletic, a lob threat and he blocks shots as well as anyone in the league. In a limited role, he’s a legitimate starting center.
Unless the Lakers luck into Anthony Davis on draft night or McGee demands above his market value, he should get his wish and be back in Los Angeles next season.