Amico: Cavs’ deal for McGee all about getting size for free

Lakers center JaVale McGee reaches for a rebound against the Hornets.

The Cavaliers finally made a move in this shortened offseason, and it was a big one.

Or more accurately, it resulted in the Cavs getting a big man.

The confirmed trade: Cavs small forward Alfonzo McKinnie and center/forward Jordan Bell to the Los Angeles Lakers for center JaVale McGee. The Cavs also received a 2026 second-round draft pick. (More on that priceless gem in a minute.)

This was actually a nice deal for Cavs GM Koby Altman. A backup center was of utmost importance after Tristan Thompson bolted for the Boston Celtics in free agency.

McGee has played for some real winners (Lakers, Golden State Warriors) and is a rangy, veteran presence who could provide an enthusiastic lift in reserve behind Andre Drummond.

McGee, 32, is 7-foot-0 and can jump. Plus, the Cavs need a veteran who isn’t afraid to speak up in the locker room after losing Thompson. It doesn’t hurt if that veteran has also won a couple championships.

McGee meets all of that criteria — and while he’s never rebounded like Thompson, McGee is a much better shotblocker.

Furthermore, the Cavs no longer had a spot for McKinnie. Not with lottery pick Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman and rookie-to-be Dylan Windler all slotted for McKinnie’s position.

And Bell was signed in June for basically this reason — as a potential trade chip.

You could say the same about McGee, actually. He has an expiring contract worth about $4 million. That will be valuable to someone at some point. For the Cavs, McGee could be flipped for another player or pick. It could even happen before training camp starts on Dec. 1.

It may not happen, too. But it’s nice to have the option.

As for the second-rounder, it’s hard to know how that topic is ever even broached. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation?

General manager No. 1: “We’ll give you JaVale McGee.”

GM No. 2: “No thanks.”

GM 1: “Let me sweeten the pot. How about I throw in a 2026 second-round pick?”

GM No. 2: “You got a deal!”

GM No. 1 (covering phone receiver and whispering to team owner): “Shhh. I think he’s going for it.”

Again, how does that topic ever even come up? How  is it even taken seriously? With high-schoolers expected to again be eligible for the NBA draft within the next few years, there stands a chance that the Cavs’ 2026 second-rounder is currently in sixth grade.

Anyway, that was just a throw-in to what Altman and the Cavs wanted to accomplish. They needed to find a backup center. They got McGee for what amounts to nothing.

Give Altman credit. He has done that quite a bit, as Drummond was acquired at the trade deadline for a couple of spare parts (center/forward John Henson and point guard Brandon Knight).

So the Cavs presumably have their centers, and they got both for free.

They also have two centers in the final year of their contracts. So they are valuable both as players and as possible trade chips.

Bottom line: McGee is better than the players the Cavs gave up, and that’s the idea when making a trade. Everything else remains to be seen, and for now, that’s OK.

As someone famous once said, “At least give them a chance to fail.”

Right now, the Cavs deserve that much, no?

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of Amico Hoops. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for both Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and

2 Comments on "Amico: Cavs’ deal for McGee all about getting size for free"

  1. Roster a little less of a mess now. But was Kevin Love bulking up to play more center for the Cavs or some other team?

    Sometimes feels like this team is going whichever way the wind blows. Winning transactions in trade market value is good, but is that really the only goal in a trade?

    What’s the basketball vision here, and who is providing it? What are the Cavs building, more than a revolving door? Anybody know if Drummond, McGee, or Love will be here in a year? How about Sexton, Garland, etc?

    Anyways this is a good deal. A portion of Cavs draft nuts’ dreams come true after just missing out on McGee back in the JJ Hickson draft.

    Slightly more polished now, extra points to Altman if he can avoid any Shaqtin’ a fool highlights in a Cavs uniform.

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