On a sleepy Friday afternoon, ESPN's Marc Stein dropped a bombshell of a Tweet:
The Warriors are signing veteran center JaVale McGee to a make-good deal for a chance to make the team in training camp, league sources say.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 29, 2016
Now, bombshell is used tongue-in-cheek here, obviously. McGee is perhaps more famous in NBA circles for his dominance on TNT's Shaqtin' A Fool segments than his dominance (or lack thereof) on the actual hardwood. But for a stopgap in the 15th roster spot, the Golden State Warriors could have done much worse.
It's easy to follow the thought process behind the audition: JaVale checks off, quite emphatically, in the categories of length, athleticism, gregariousness, and (sporadic) shot-blocking. As I mentioned before, he's got perhaps the largest catch radius in the league (or at least, in the same stratosphere as Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis) for lobs, something that Draymond Green is wont to use and abuse repeatedly. Ex-teammate and all-around cerebral human being Andre Iguodala has been rumored to have given his vote of confidence for the famously goofy McGee. The guy full-on consumed Wesley Matthews' soul on the court, a few years back.
That's the way a used car salesman would sell you on McGee, anyway. The question remains: with all of these endorsements and freakish displays of Herculean athleticism... why was he even available this late into summer? And why have teams repeatedly asked the most athletic 7-footer alive, in a league constantly looking for and overpaying athletic 7-footers, to hit the bricks?
McGee just hasn't consistently contributed to winning basketball over his career. Opponents score worse against his teams when he's on the pine. And he's struggled immensely to get off the bench, to begin with. Since Andre Iguodala last played with McGee, the lanky center has logged an astonishing 705 total minutes of play. Reminder: Iguodala and McGee played together in 2013. Over that time span, McGee has suffered three separate left leg fractures that have caused him to miss significant time, according to FoxSports. When he has been healthy, though, he simply hasn't been getting playing time -- including under head coach Rick Carlisle, one of the top three or four coaches in the game. Andre Iguodala may have endorsed McGee, but Carlisle hardly did.
Ultimately, though, time (and training camp) will reveal all secrets. This sounds like a no-risk investment for the Warriors, and an opportunity of a career for McGee. If healthy, focused, and utilized properly by coach Steve Kerr, McGee can be a controlled force of nature on the court next season.
On a related note, this news regarding McGee effectively closes the window to any Larry Sanders return -- at least for the Warriors.