NBA PM: Could Celtics Deal for Wizards’ McGee?
Everyone’s mom knows that the Washington Wizards are looking for someone to take Andray Blatche off their hands, but center JaVale McGee… that’s a bit of a surprise.
The seven-foot shot-blocking big man was thought to be untouchable for the past few seasons, but without much offensive or defensive development (his free throw shooting has regressed to 47.2% this season and he wanders too much on defense) McGee’s time in D.C. may be up.
So, before they’re forced to decide if they want to invest in McGee long term as they once did with Blatche (a mistake that will still cost them around $8.5 million in 2014-2015), the Wizards are now willing to trade their starting center, according to a report by Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
“The Wizards aren’t actively shopping McGee but they are willing to listen, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. With the trade deadline less than a week away, John Wall is the only untouchable on the roster, one executive said.”
One league source told HOOPSWORLD that he “wasn’t surprised” by the decision, but this may come as a huge shock for McGee, whose mother once told the Washington Post that he was the “future of the NBA.”
What makes McGee a particularly interesting trade piece is that his base salary is just $2.4 million, which makes moving him significantly easier than, say, trading Blatche. For a team trying to build around Wall, dealing McGee could be a major step forward.
One team that sticks out as a contender for McGee is the Boston Celtics, who have been looking for a center since dealing Kendrick Perkins last season. Remember, Boston has the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round pick as well as a second rounder from the Milwaukee Bucks in addition to future second-round picks from the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but everything could be packaged together very easily.
Boston also has its own picks as well as young players such as combo guard Avery Bradley and last year’s first-round pick JaJuan Johnson. Again, these all sound like small pieces, but when you consider all of the holes the Wizards have to fill on their roster, a potential deal looks more feasible.
The Celtics also have over $40 million coming off the books next season, so they would be able to afford McGee going forward. And remember, not every potential suitor would have the chance of re-signing the former Nevada star that Boston would. Obviously McGee doesn’t have a say in where he gets traded and he would be a restricted free agent this summer, but the Celtics’ assets and cap flexibility make them a possible destination if the Wizards are ready to deal the future of the NBA.
Casspi Thankful for Opportunity with Cavs
J.J Hickson was falling out of Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart’s rotation when he spoke with HOOPSWORLD in late February. The former Cleveland Cavalier discussed his shock over being traded prior to the season and his hope to contribute to the Kings, but when asked how things would play out in Sacramento, the soon-to-be restricted free agent confessed, “I don’t know.”
The man he was traded for, current Cavalier forward Omri Casspi, knows the feeling.
Casspi was phased out in Sacramento toward the end of last season—by previous coach Paul Westphal—and, like Hickson, was surprised to be dealt over the offseason.
“I didn’t think my time was coming to an end but obviously in the last month and a half in Sacramento I didn’t play much,” Casspi told HOOPSWORLD. “I figured maybe we were going in different directions. I had a great two years and I was looking forward to my third there… (I’m) happy to be in a position in Cleveland now to contribute to the team.”
Unfortunately, Casspi’s contributions have been curtailed over the last few games. The 6-9 forward averaged over 24 MPG in February, but has recently lost his starting spot and has played just 15.8 MPG through four games in March.
In fact, outside of a strong January in which he averaged 8.6 PPG, Casspi hasn’t been pleased with his level of play this year.
“I’ve kind of played not to my potential before the All-Star break and kind of took my time off and looked, watched a lot of film, watched a lot of video to see where I can make myself better offensively,” Casspi said. “I feel like it’s a new start for me after the All-Star break.”
It’s also a new start for Cleveland, albeit a rough one. In spite of their current 1-6 stretch, the Cavaliers are just three games out of the final playoff spot in the East and as the compacted season drags on, their ability to play up-tempo basketball could be a huge advantage.
Coach Byron Scott, who Casspi says is like a “father figure” to him and his teammates, has been able to take advantage of the Cavs’ youth by keeping his foot on the gas. Young players like Casspi, Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving have helped Cleveland averaged 94.9 possessions per gay (eighth in the league) and that’s helped compensate for the team’s overall poor shooting (their true shooting percentage is 24th in the NBA).
“We’re good on offense because we have a lot of tools that we can use but we’re young and we have young legs,” Casspi said, “especially in this kind of short season when you have so many games and sometimes we’re playing against older teams like, for example, the Boston Celtics. We can push the ball more and get a lot of things offensively in the open floor and we have a lot of guys that can create in the open floor as well.”
Casspi admits he has to “run the floor a little bit better,” explaining that if he gets wider on the fast break, he’ll have more opportunities to attack the basket and “knock down my shots.”
He says he feels “comfortable wherever” Scott puts him and there’s some signs that the Cavs coach is finding better uses for his combo forward. While Casspi’s minutes have gone down, he’s making 53.8% of his field goals this month, which is up from 38.4% in February.
That may not be the greatest silver lining in the world, but for Casspi, a player who was written off by a lottery-bound Kings team, getting a chance to contribute on a playoff contender is a significant improvement.
“I’m just happy to be in this position and we have a good group of guys and a great coaching staff and everybody wants to help,” Casspi said.
Check Out: No. 11 Baylor vs. No. 3 Kansas
The Big 12 Tournament has become an unlikely showcase for pro talent in recent seasons, and Baylor and Kansas will keep that going tonight at 7:30 ET when the two teams meet in Kansas City, MO.
The Jayhawks won both meetings this season (what else is new?), but this game is interesting because it’s a good showcase for Bears forwards Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller as well as Kansas forward Thomas Robinson. It goes without saying that NBA scouts will be paying attention when these three first-round talents take the floor tonight.
The game is being aired on ESPN U.
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