Four Reasons Why the Warriors Are Open to Trading JaVale McGee
The rumor is real. JaVale McGee’s future with the Warriors is in jeopardy.
The Warriors are willing to part with their part-time backup center, according to multiple league sources, and there are several possible destinations, with the Milwaukee Bucks being one of them.
Should the Warriors move the 7-footer, and it’s fairly certain they will, it will disappoint many of their fans. McGee, who turns 30 next month, quickly became a fan favorite last season, and now has something of a cult following.
There are at least four reasons why the Warriors are open to trading McGee, who clearly was more valuable to them last season than he has been this season.
Reason No. 1: The emergence of Jordan Bell.
The Warriors quickly became enchanted with Bell, who shined in Las Vegas Summer League and continued to be effective once the regular season began. They realized he’s capable of guarding multiple positions, which is a valuable commodity with this franchise. Check the roster.
As much as the Warriors liked Bell, though, they weren’t ready to fully activate him until they evaluated his performance when Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia each missed two weeks. The Warriors were 4-0 during that stretch, and Bell was a big reason why. He proved he could handle being a starter.
Both Bell and McGee are prone to glaring errors, but it’s easier for the Warriors to live with them from the rookie than from someone in his ninth season.
Reason No. 2: The juggling of minutes.
The Warriors have concluded that most of their “center” minutes are going to go to David West, Pachulia and Bell. Kevon Looney and Green can still fill in at the “5” position, but those minutes have diminished as Bell has emerged.
West, Pachulia and Bell are very different from each other, which is why the Warriors can turn to any one of them for a very specific purpose. Each is valuable and each is needed.
When Green and Pachulia were out of the lineup for four consecutive games, McGee played a total of 28 minutes. He didn’t play at all against the Trail Blazers on Dec. 11. In three of the last seven Warriors games, he has not played a single minute.
Reason No. 3: Damian Jones is closing the gap between he and McGee.
Jones, healing from injury, missed training camp and the first two months as a rookie last season. By the 7-footer was physically able, McGee had established himself as the backup big man who provides a decent vertical presence in the paint.
But the Warriors have always visualized Jones someday providing production similar to that they received last season from McGee. Sure, Jones was raw. He’s a project. That’s why this season, as part of his development, he has been with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors. Jones is progressing.
The Warriors are asking themselves a reasonable question: Is McGee providing anything we can’t get from Jones? The answer: Generally, no.
Reason No. 4: The Warriors would like to add another shooter.
The Warriors got precious little scoring from their bench last season, particularly from beyond the arc. Their bench ranked 29th in 3-point makes per game, and they addressed that by signing Nick Young and Omri Casspi.
The numbers through 34 games are similar to those posted through 82 last season. Though the bench is the league’s best net rating (9.3), it ranks 18th in scoring (33.8 points), 15th in 3-point percentage (35.4) and 29th in 3-point makes (2.4 per game).
Quinn Cook might help, while also addressing point guard depth. His two-way contract allows for 45 days in the NBA, after which time the Warriors can decide to sign him. They might. They’re ready to add someone, for sure.
So, all things considered, no one on the roster is more vulnerable than McGee, who has been a good teammate and is a popular figure in the locker room.
The Warriors have four All-Stars and they care much less about who is popular than who can help them win another championship.
It will be surprising if McGee is on the roster in mid-January and downright stunning if he’s around past Feb. 8 trade deadline.