Is Javale McGee to the Clippers an inevitable Doc Rivers move?


In an at-the-buzzer attempt, JaVale McGee (or his agent) has freed himself from the profuse tanking reigns of the Philadelphia 76ers as the center and the franchise agreed to a buyout just before the deadline that would  allow any free agent to join a team for the playoffs, per Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports.

"The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to waive center JaVale McGee in time for him to sign with a playoff team, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the decision had not been announced."

Right after the trade deadline deal to Philadelphia, it was rumored McGee could join the list of player who would request a buyout, but McGee immediately made his intentions known about pursuing just that.

“I don’t want to get bought out,” said McGee. “That’s not a positive thing. When you think about it, you don’t get all of your money when you get bought out. So it doesn’t make sense why someone would want to get bought out unless they are older – older and they want to go to a contender or something. I’m not that old. I just want to play basketball.”

Long behold, McGee got his wish: according to Amick, McGee retained every dollar owed to him through the next two season ($12 million-plus).

Now free to join whichever contender is willing to add him for the playoff run, if McGee finds himself as a member of the Clippers, it’ll be surprise to no one.

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  • Since December, the Clippers have been connected with several big men, whether it be for a possible trade or in hopes of acquiring following a possible buyout: Josh Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Kenyon Martin, Kendrick Perkins, etc. Fact of the matter is, if you were a veteran big, especially one Rivers had coached in the past, he was interested in you. Fast forward nearly three months later — and two weeks after the trade deadline — and you’ve several strike outs on the Clippers’ end: Stoudemire (Mavericks) and Smith (Rockets) spurned the Clippers immediately after negotiating buyouts with their former clubs, Garnett declined a buyout from Brooklyn only to accept a trade to Minnesota, Martin went on to play with former teammate Jason Kidd in Milwaukee, and Kendrick Perkins, in his own words or something close to, chose “the King over Doc”. With this happening, the buyout market became bare and the trade market remained an option the Clippers lacked the assets to deal within, leaving the Clippers with two options: deal with the bigs at hand (Jordan, Hawes, Davis, Griffin) or rummage through the NBA Developmental League for a guy as they did with Dahtnay Jones; Rivers stuck with option A.

    Enter JaVale McGee.

    While he’s not the veteran-y veteran Rivers keeps his eye on, he’s an able-body big man who could provide a ‘possible’ upgrade over the struggling, underwhelming Spencer Hawes. Because of injury, McGee has only participated in 22 games this season, but when he has played (in Denver and Philadelphia), the big man is averaging 4.7 points on 53% shooting from the field, 2.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 11.3 minutes per game. In comparison to Hawes, whose minutes he’d be stealing if McGee was to join the Clippers on a vet minimum deal, those aren’t bad numbers.

    The real issue with McGee is, and has always been, maturity and staying focused on both ends of the floor. There’s a reason why McGee was offered a $48 million deal years back; at his size, McGee has all the tools needed to be an elite defender and rebounder and the Wizards hoped that’d he be what DeAndre Jordan is for the Clippers today, or something close to it.  But between injuries and other factors, the center just hasn’t been able to put it together, sort of as Jordan struggled in the pre-Doc Rivers days, which creates the opportunity for Rivers to play career reviver if McGee has what it takes to be a rotation player on a ‘championship’ team.

    The maturity? Unless Rivers has found a new-found faith in Spencer Hawes, maturity could be the only thing keep McGee away from Los Angeles. Since the trade that sent Reggie Bullock and Chris Douglas-Roberts to the Phoenix Suns and Austin Rivers to the Clippers, chemistry, on and off the court, has been a big speaking point for Rivers and some players. McGee hasn’t exactly been Lance Stephenson in his post-Washington days, but if a pristine locker room plays heavy into getting the team to buy into themselves and focus on the bigger picture, showing little to no interest makes sense.

    There is no limit to when the Clippers or any other NBA team can sign McGee, so if it doesn’t happen soon. McGee has his money so there’s no rush to latch onto another club for immediate cash. The Clippers are rolling without Blake Griffin (6-4 to be exact) and unless there’s a hidden distaste for the frontcourt rotations (aka Spencer Hawes) a move won’t be made immediately.

    But one should, if only for tryout purposes via a 10-day contract. Worst-case scenario, the Clippers end up relying on DeAndre Jordan for 42 minutes a night in the playoffs. Considering how he’s played this season, that’s not exactly a bad thing, but getting to that point without testing the waters for a hopeful backup is a bad process, especially when an option is readily available on the open market.

    Even if it is THE JaVale McGee.

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