Nuggets are bringing home JaVale McGee in trade with Cavaliers

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

JaVale McGee has been surfacing in a slew of trade rumors. Now the Cavaliers have reportedly moved him to the Denver Nuggets.

The Cavaliers have made the first move in their crowded frontcourt, reportedly trading JaVale McGee to the Denver Nuggets for Isaiah Hartenstein and two future second-round picks. The picks are highly protected and might not confer much value but Hartenstein is an interesting and skilled 22-year-old big man. He’s had trouble earning minutes for the Rockets and Nuggets in his three NBA seasons but his career per-36 minute averages — 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.1 blocks — hint at a player who could be useful for a rebuilding team with more developmental opportunities.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, add frontcourt depth and land a player who was assumed to be high on the priority list for several other potential contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.

What can JaVale McGee do for the Denver Nuggets?

McGee spent four injury-plagued seasons with the Nuggets half a lifetime ago, averaging 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, shooting 57.5 percent from the field. He returns as a championship-winning player who performs well in a constrained, supporting role — protecting the rim and providing vertical spacing on offense.

JaVale McGee will likely play a minor role for the Nuggets but he gives them an adaptable big men option they don’t currently have on the roster. He likely won’t play at all with Jokic who takes the majority of the center minutes but Denver’s current previous back-up options — JaMychal Green and Paul Millsap, don’t really have the length or rim-protection instincts to do what McGee does. It’s tweaking at the margins but it could make a difference for the Nuggets, even if it’s just keeping him off the Lakers.