JaVale McGee’s wayward tenure with the Denver Nuggets is over. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post, the talented but wildly inconsistent seven-footer is on his way to the Philadelphia 76ers along with a first-round pick previously acquired by Denver from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
McGee never lived up to expectations gleaned from a coming-out-party against Andrew Bynum and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. After being dealt from the Washington Wizards for Nene in a much scrutinized deadline deal, the then 24 year-old averaged nine points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in just 26 minutes per game versus Los Angeles, leading to a four-year, $44 million extension the subsequent July.
But McGee would never come close to scraping the vast potential he showed during that series or even duplicating that overall performance on a consistent basis. Injuries and a decided lack of basketball IQ on both ends of the floor curtailed his burgeoning career before it really took off, as evidenced by the Nuggets sweetening the deal with Philly by including a first-rounder.
Something to keep an eye on going forward: Denver has created $19 million in trade exceptions by dealing McGee and Arron Afflalo. In what seems like a minor roster overhaul at the very least, that additional flexibility for GM Tim Connelly and company looms large.
What a boon for the Sixers. McGee’s $12 million salary is of no consequence for Philly as it continues a years-long rebuilding project, and another valuable draft pick further crowds GM Sam Hinkie’s toolshed of movable assets – even though its protected 1-18 and 1-15 the following two years. Assuming Oklahoma City rebounds to its pre- 2014-2015 status going forward and doesn’t go on a major late-season run over the next two months, Philadelphia will likely see the selection conveyed next year.
What a downward spiral for Denver over the past 18 months since its most successful regular season ever in 2012-2013. If the Sixers’ young players develop and Hinkie continues to stockpile picks, their future – and maybe even present – suddenly looks far brighter than the Nuggets’.