With the NBA’s offseason hitting its quietest point, literally any roster news is being given everybody’s full attention. The latest being that the Dallas Mavericks plan to waive JaVale McGee, after failing to find a suitable trade partner for him this summer.
At point point in time McGee was mentioned as one of the players in a possible deal with the Phoenix Suns for Deandre Ayton. A rumor that never got off the ground, and with Ayton looking good for the Bahamas this summer, one that are fans are glad went away.
With McGee now available as a free agent, the Suns should continue to stay away from a player they are all too familiar with.
There is only one case for bringing back the 35-year-old, and that is because he would bring with him championship experience. The three time Larry O’Brien trophy winner having seen a lot during his time in the league, and in theory that would make him a good mentor for young bigs such as Drew Eubanks and Bol Bol.
Really though McGee left his prime behind long ago, and there is no shame in that either. But if the Suns are looking for an impact big off the bench, well — they tried that with McGee in the 2021-22 season. To be fair he played 74 regular season games, getting 17 starts.
But come the postseason, McGee was down to just over 11 minutes per night while averaging 6.8 points and four rebounds. There are those who think that bringing McGee back for the regular season might actually make sense, because once the playoffs start he is not going to be needed. It is a fair argument to put forward.
But for all of the talk of the Suns needing to rely more on players like Eric Gordon and Keita Bates-Diop during the regular season, they will still actually have to win some games. Here at Valley of the Suns, we tentatively have the team pegged to go 54-28, and McGee would not help that win total increase at all.
He played only 8.5 minutes per game last season for the Mavericks, and managed 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds 42 games. That he started seven games is both a miracle, but also exactly why the Suns should be avoiding the player. The Mavericks lacked depth around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, and did little to remedy the situation this summer.
Yet despite this, they still allowed McGee to walk, even though he’s more likely to see the court with the Mavericks than the Suns. Another glaring issue here is that the Suns’ roster is full, and they have stocked all the right positions with depth. Ayton starts at the five, with Eubanks backing him up.
Bol is in no way a defensive big man, but even Kevin Durant could play some spot minutes there in certain rotations. If it meant giving up a spot to bring McGee in, then that just wouldn’t make any sense either. Besides, what can McGee do that Bismack Biyombo for example cannot?
He might be that bit springier, but Biyombo is a marginally more acceptable option than McGee, and he is still without a team after last playing for the Suns. Hard as it is to find high level big men in the NBA today, which is why the importance of Ayton cannot be overstated, there are plenty more big, serviceable players who are better than McGee for the Suns to choose from.
The availability of McGee just came along at the wrong time for franchise and player. Had the offseason gone badly, then you definitely could have talked yourself into bringing him back to shore up the bench. Instead the Suns went out there and got players like Gordon, Bates-Diop and Yuta Watanabe.
Even adding Bol, with all of the offensive upside he has, is more appealing than having another go round with McGee. Given the financial situation the Suns’ front office had to work with, getting no less than eight players to sign minimum deals was superb business by the organization. McGee could be brought in for little money, but when you see what the Suns got, what’s the point?
So no, JaVale McGee is not a player the Suns should be monitoring to fortify their roster that bit more. If this superteam experiment goes badly and the franchise needs to make moves on the fly, players like McGee are going to be available. They are always available. JaVale McGee himself — will in all likelihood be available…