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NBA Free Agency: JaVale McGee agrees to deal with Lakers

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Two-time champion JaVale McGee becomes the first free agent to leave the Warriors in 2018.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after news broke that LeBron James and then Lance Stephenson (?!?) would sign with the L.A. Lakers, Chris Haynes of ESPN announced that JaVale McGee would be headed down south as well.

Haynes reports that it’s a one-year deal for the minimum, which is also surprising given that McGee reportedly had interest in re-joining the Golden State Warriors for a chance at his third straight NBA championship ring — as Brady Klopfer wrote earlier this weekend, “It would seem the Warriors have the clear leg up in the competition...smart money would say that McGee and the Warriors reach a deal.” If he did leave, the safer assumption was that he’d leave for more years and/or money than a one-year minimum deal.

Nevertheless, this isn’t a huge blow for the Warriors — despite McGee’s solid play at times during the Warriors’ most recent playoff run, Jordan Bell is expected to take a step forward, and Damian Jones is something of an x-factor who the Warriors are expecting to take more minutes after spending two years developing in the G-League. Free agent Kevon Looney took major strides this season and the Warriors hope to bring him back. And, of course, Draymond Green spent significant minutes at the five during the playoff run. It’s easy to speculate that all that rising young talent contributed to McGee’s decision to leave.

McGee, who had become one of the more memorable personalities during this championship run, will certainly be missed by fans, but the team will move on. As Tim Kawakami of The Athletic has tweeted, this move won’t change the Warriors’ approach to the offseason in any significant way.

For a Lakers team that has catapulted itself back into relevance on the first day of free agency, the addition of McGee makes for a very ...interesting... cast of characters. In addition to James, Stephenson, and McGee they will have Lonzo and LaVar Ball.