NBA News: JaVale McGee interested in extending Lakers stay
JaVale McGee reinvented himself from a journeyman and weekly Shaqtin' a Fool fixture to a key contributor for two championships with the Golden State Warriors. This season, as a free-agent signing by the Los Angeles Lakers, he had arguably the best individual season of his career. He was even in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year for a period of time in the early part of the year.
However just before Christmas, he had a severe bout with pneumonia and after he returned, his effectiveness was not the same for quite a while. After the All-Star break, however, his play picked back up on both ends. His high point of the season came against the Brooklyn Nets, with 33 points, 20 rebounds, and 6 blocks, on 15-20 shooting from the field. Only Shaquille O'Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have posted 30-20-5 in the history of the Lakers franchise.
He put himself in further elite category this season, becoming only the second player across the league to average least two blocks per game with at least 10 points, and 60% or higher percentage shooting from the field. The other player was reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. Evidenced by his shooting percentage, his best shot remains the dunk - though he has shown a Kareem-like skyhook at times and will even hit an occasional jumper.
McGee, 31, ended the season with averages of 12 points, 7.5 rebounds and two blocks per game on 62.8% shooting from the field in just 22.3 minutes. He played in 75 games, starting 62 of them. Clearly the Lakers' second best free agent pickup after LeBron James, some might also argue he's been their most consistent player - albeit surprisingly.
In fact, some of his best battles this season were against the aforementioned Gobert, widely regarded as the center's best. During their most recent matchup, McGee recorded 22 points, eight rebounds and two blocks - while Gobert had 21, 10 and two in a Lakers win.
In a season full of tumultuous situations and ultimately disappointment, McGee's quirky personality livened up the team. He also established himself as a veteran leader to some of the youngsters, namely former center Ivica Zubac before his trade to local rivals Clippers.
However, he is reported to have been one of the players involved in a rumoured locker room bust-up with now-former head coach Luke Walton after a defeat by the Warriors, largely due to reduced minutes at the time. It is very possible he'll be returning, although there are likely to be interested suitors in a league where athletic and versatile big men are highly sought-after.
After the season's conclusion earlier this month, he said he's "highly interested" in remaining a Laker, echoing comments a few weeks earlier about being open to the possibility of re-signing. hly sought after. However, he acknowledged that the NBA is a business and with no certainties, it's definitely a smart decision that the Lakers would make to re-sign McGee.