Rumors have been circulating for the last 24-48 hours that the Philadelphia 76ers were in serious talks with JaVale McGee about a possible buyout. In order for McGee to be playoff eligible, that buyout would have to occur before last nights deadline, and according to ESPN, JaVale McGee was officially waived last night. Should the Sacramento Kings give McGee a call?
There are a number of connections to be made between McGee, George Karl, and Pete D’Alessandro, but not all of them are positive. Would Karl want to coach McGee again? Would McGee want to play for Karl?
Let’s back up for a minute. Pete D’Alessandro was part of the Denver Nuggets front office that not only traded for McGee, but also signed him to a 4-year, $44 million contract. The same contract he was just bought out of.
D’Alessandro wasn’t the general manager at the time, but he certainly had input. It wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that he was in favor of both the trade and the extension, but we don’t know that for sure. The point being, D’Alessandro valued McGee. Maybe he doesn’t anymore, but he did.
My gut tells me D’Alessandro in interested in bringing McGee in. George Karl is a different story.
In a roundabout way, McGee is a big reason why George Karl was fired by the Denver Nuggets in 2013. Karl started Kosta Koufos over McGee, and that angered parts of the ownership group and front office, because they wanted him to play the man they just gave a $44 million contract to. Karl says the front office never approached him about his rotations, so who knows how much McGee’s minutes actually played into any of this, but it was a factor.
In an interview with Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post shortly after Karl was fired, he said –
"“We won 57 games and are in a great place. Continuity, consistency, togetherness all are so much more valuable than what they have on their priority list of playing JaVale McGee or the young players. And first of all, it shouldn’t be that I didn’t play young players. It’s I didn’t play young players enough, because we played a lot of young players — Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, Evan Fournier at the end of the year, Ty Lawson. And, I never had a meeting where there was disappointment, in that part of it, voiced to me. I heard through whispers. I’m sorry that 57 wins doesn’t make you happy. I think it was a special season because of the connection this team has with each other and with the coaching staff and with the city. The fans like this team. The staff likes each other. And to blow up that connection is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to coaching.”"
I don’t think Karl hates McGee. In fact, you could argue that McGee played his best basketball under Karl in the 2012-13 season when the Nuggets won 57 games and Karl was named “Coach of the Year”.
In 2012-13, McGee averaged 9.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game and shot a career high .575 from the field in just 18 minutes as the Nuggets backup center. That’s great production from that position.
Karl was right about his assessment of McGee. To this day, Koufos is the steadier player.
If D’Alessandro brings McGee in, he wouldn’t have that $44-million contract attached to him. He wouldn’t have starter expectations. He would return to the reserve role Karl used him so effectively in, and we all know the Kings bench unit could use some serious help.
JaVale McGee is more than just a basketball player. His play on the court ranges from spectacular to endearing to infuriating. His frequent appearances on ‘Shaqtin A Fool’ do his issues better justice than my words could ever do.
I’d sign him, for what it’s worth. The risk is incredibly low. The Kings can bring him in for the final 20+ games and see if they can find anything of value there. Either he works out and the Kings bring him on next season, or he doesn’t and the team moves on.
It’s ultimately going to come down to what JaVale wants to do. His agent could have a playoff team already lined up, but even if he signs with someone else for the rest of the season, now that he’s out of that $44-million contract, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kings target him in free agency this summer.
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