McGee Didn’t See Nuggets Trade Coming
JaVale McGee had no idea that the Washington Wizards were going to trade him. In the hours leading up to the trade deadline, many players obsessively check their phone or read the latest rumors. McGee wasn’t worried. In fact, he was sleeping when the Denver Nuggets finalized the deal to acquire him.
“I was sleeping, taking my pregame nap,” McGee told HOOPSWORLD. “When I woke up, I found out that I had been traded. I had a bunch of text messages from different people and I talked to the team. I was shocked. I just asked, ‘When do I leave?’”
McGee was expecting to finish the season in Washington and the move definitely caught him off guard. However, after the shock passed, he realized that the change of scenery would be good for him. It’s not often that a notable player gets to jump from a lottery team to a playoff team. McGee is enjoying the experience in Denver, where the team expects to win every night and compete come playoff time.
“This is a great organization,” McGee said. “There are a lot of hard working people here and this organization gives their players everything they need.”
McGee has been productive since joining the Nuggets, averaging 10 points, 7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks through seven games. He insists his best games have yet to come since he’s still adjusting to the new situation. It’s difficult to play with new teammates in a new system under a new coaching staff, especially in a condensed season with limited practice time.
Playing in Denver also means that McGee has to adjust to the altitude, which is easier said than done since he has exercise-induced asthma. McGee is on medication and uses an inhaler frequently.
“The only real adjustment for me has been the altitude,” McGee said. “That’s the only thing and it wasn’t really that tough to get used to. It was hard during my first game, but after that I was good.”
The young center had no problem fitting in with the Nuggets. Denver is a young team so McGee was right at home when he entered the locker room. It’s not uncommon to see McGee making jokes or cracking up alongside teammates. Through seven games, McGee has also impressed his new teammates on the court. Ty Lawson admits that McGee had made his job easier on both ends of the floor.
“He’s a young guy and he’s a factor down low,” Lawson told HOOPSWORLD. “He blocks shots and that really helps us. Guards don’t want to go down in the paint because they know he’ll be right there to block or alter their shot. That’s huge for us. On offense, you can just throw the ball up anywhere and he’ll catch it.”
Whether McGee remains with the Nuggets after this season remains to be seen. He is a restricted free agent this summer, which means Denver will have the opportunity to match any offer he receives. With Dwight Howard choosing to opt-in with the Orlando Magic, McGee will be one of the best centers available this offseason. McGee says his camp has yet to talk with the Nuggets’ brass about a new contract.
“My agent is going to handle all of that this summer,” McGee said.
Until then, McGee will try to help the Nuggets win games and make the playoffs in the stacked Western Conference. While the trade initially caught him off guard, he’s in a better situation now. The losing and negativity is behind him. Instead, McGee is several weeks away from making his postseason debut.
“It’s definitely a different atmosphere,” McGee said. “It’s a better atmosphere here.”