Cavs acquire JaVale McGee, future 2nd-round pick via trade with Lakers in solid move

Los Angeles Lakers big JaVale McGee blocks a shot. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers big JaVale McGee blocks a shot. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly acquired JaVale McGee and a future second-round pick via trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been too active in free agency, aside from reported signings of undrafted free agent forward Lamar Stevens via two-way deal and recently picking up the undrafted Charles Matthews, a guard/wing.

On Sunday, though, the Wine and Gold and general manager Koby Altman made an understandable move.

Cleveland had a clear need for a backup 5 with Tristan Thompson reportedly signing via unrestricted free agency with the Boston Celtics on Saturday, and as a result, Cleveland did at least get one. And on the cheap, really.

Per a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers traded reserve 5 JaVale McGee to the Cavaliers, to go with a future second-round pick. And according to a report from’s Chris Fedor, the Cavs are sending reserve forward Alfonzo McKinnie and reserve small-ball 5 Jordan Bell to L.A, and that future 2 is a 2026 pick, per Fedor.

For the Lakers, here was more on as to why they went route from a cap standpoint, as to accommodate the recently-signed Marc Gasol’s contract structure, of which was reported by Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Here was what I was getting at, anyhow, as illustrated by ESPN’s Bobby Marks; McKinnie and Bell’s deal are non-guaranteed for next season, for reference, but the Lakers will address that.

So from the Cavs’ perspective, here, what jumps out, then?

This trade/acquisition of McGee/that future 2 was a solid move by the Cavs.

This trade clearly helped the Lakers from the Gasol standpoint, as Marks noted, but from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ side of things, it was a move I’m on-board with by Altman.

McGee is on an expiring deal for $4.2 million next season, and is set to be the Cavs’ backup 5 to Andre Drummond, who picked up his $28.7 million player option earlier this week.

For context, the aforementioned Fedor did note how Cleveland needed to include Bell and McKinnie in the deal as their $3.9 million trade exception did not adequately compensate McGee’s salary. From there, Fedor stated how Cleveland, whose set to have 12 players rostered after the deal (three under the maximum), “will continue to explore potential signings, most likely a backup point guard, using their mid-level exception.” That’s for $9.8 million.

As far as what McGee could provide for the Cavaliers in a reserve role, it’s clear as day that it’s his presence near the rim that should make a difference at both ends. Though he’s 32, McGee, who had 6.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 2019-20, is still a highly capable roller, and on the Cavs as opposed to L.A. next season, he should get burn game-to-game in minutes spelling Drummond.

McGee is not a player you want in an on-ball role, but he’s a constant lob threat in his minutes-share as an athletic 7-footer, which could bode well for Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., Dylan Windler and/or the currently unrestricted Matthew Dellavedova, if he’s re-signed. McGee is a formidable screener as well.

McGee is not a shooter, but he’ll get putbacks for you, and he can hit some push shots/hooks at times. The bottom line offensively is that McGee plays with power as an above-the-rim finisher on lobs/rolls/putbacks and can get some tip-ins. He’s a career 70.7 percent finisher in the restricted area and has a career offensive rebounding clip of 12.1 percent.

In regards to the defensive end, McGee again, makes his presence felt on the interior. He’s a legitimate rim protector, as evidenced by 3.2 blocks per-36 minutes lifetime, and his 7-foot-6 wingspan does help to some degree deter floaters. Albeit if you’re asking McGee to switch out in pick-and-roll, that’s far from ideal.

But McGee’s length definitely does alter shots in his minutes, which should help Cleveland’s last-ranked defense from the past two seasons, as far as defensive rating, and I don’t discount his interior presence. And in a reserve role spelling Drummond, McGee could provide energy for the Cavaliers.

So even while Drummond could feasibly be traded at some point by the Cavs, McGee could realistically be a viable starter near a closing stretch of next season for the Wine and Gold and/or be a piece they flip for an asset, if the Cavs were to bring back a center, anyhow. Cleveland could patch things together from there for a reserve 5, perhaps.

But if McGee sticks around through next season, that’d be fine to me, as it could aid Cleveland’s defense/pieces such as Kevin Love, Sexton, Garland, Isaac Okoro, Windler and others.

And when it comes to sending out Bell, he could’ve very well just been more against small-ball 5’s, and I was a fan of McKinnie’s defense/hustle, and his offensive rebounding, but in the grand scheme, this gets a thumbs up from me.

McGee’s a more than capable backup 5, even though he does make some head-scratching plays at times, but he is a player that provides a legitimate presence at both ends near the basket and he’s an energy guy that has had ample postseason experience, too.

That, to go with a future second-round pick asset for Bell and McKinnie, who would’ve played spot minutes next season at best, factoring in Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro and Windler, to go with Nance, anyway, from McKinnie’s perspective, was a nice move.

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I liked McKinnie’s defense, but again, this was a solid move by Altman, assistant general manager Mike Gansey and company. McGee could be a nice veteran locker room presence, too.