Firstly, thank you, JaVale McGee, you were a genuine treat to watch. Always played hard, never made any excuses, and was the type of player any team should want on their roster. On Thursday morning, hours before the trade deadline, the Cavs sent McGee to the Denver Nuggets. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal included Isaiah Hartenstein and two future second-round picks.
McGee, who’s already won two NBA Championships with the Golden State Warriors and one more with the Los Angeles Lakers, will go for his fourth this year.
While McGee was a great player for the Cavs off the bench, keeping him didn’t make any sense if the Cavaliers weren’t going to be in contention. McGee was 33 and on a one-year deal. He was playing valuable minutes on a team that isn’t going anywhere and everyone knew it. Signing him long-term wasn’t an option because you’d be investing money in a player who may not be worth his contract by next year.
Hartenstein is actually an incredible low-post defender. Sure, he needs work offensively to be a viable two-way center in the NBA, but his impact on the defense could be really valuable if he can continue to develop with Cleveland. He’s only averaging 3.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and less than a block per game, but he’s also not gotten much playing time. He hasn’t averaged 10 minutes per game for his career so far.
He’s going to get a lot of minutes on the second team with Dean Wade, and that could be a really fun frontcourt. Wade isn’t nearly the defender that Hartenstein is, though Wade is a hustle guy so he does make up for it. The two could become a nice compliment for one another.
As for the draft picks, the Cavs can never have too much. Fans of the Cavs in the early ’80s certainly remember Ted Stepien and the now infamous Stepien rule. The rule prohibiting teams from having no first-round picks in two consecutive drafts. A rule needed because Stepien kept trading his away. So now it feels like the Cavs are constantly trying to appease the basketball gods by acquiring as many picks as possible all the time.