May 12, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) looks on as Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) makes a basket in the first half of game seven of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Just six days ago, the silence on the JaVale McGee contract negotiations was broken. Benjamin Hochman, of the Denver Post, reported on July 13th that the Nuggets had a five-year $50 million deal on the table for McGee, but his representatives "don't appear to be in a hurry to get a deal done...".
Last night, McGee tweeted out a photo of himself signing his new contract, in what one assumes is his suite in Las Vegas (that photo has since been deleted). Just minutes later, another photo appeared of McGee, his mom Pam McGee, Josh Kroenke, Masai Ujiri, Pete D'
Reached for comment, Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri had this to say. "We are excited," said Ujiri via text message. "(Anthony) Randolph is going to fit how we play too."
The Nuggets made the tough call to amnesty 34 year-old Chris Andersen and re-loaded with two young, athletic big men who love to run the floor. Randolph, 23 years-old, came over as an unrestricted free agent from the Minnesota Timberwolves on a very salary cap friendly three-year $6 million deal. McGee, who turned 24 years-old on January 19th, got a little more money ...
As far as negotiations go - when news broke of the $10 million per season offer, that appeared to be the floor. The Nuggets couldn't possibly pay less, could they? Well, the Nuggets won't be paying McGee for a fifth season (on this deal), so while the total sum is less than the $50 million - Denver is actually paying McGee just a touch more per season at $11 million each year (averaged out). McGee's actual earnings for the 2012-13 season have yet to be released, he could be making somewhere in the $9-$10 million range with percentage-raises each season.
The key or holdup of this deal appeared to be the length of the contract. An educated guess - McGee's representatives wanted a shorter deal of four years. That way, McGee can perhaps sign another mega-contract when he's 28 years-old, if things pan out the one they hope. At 28 years-old an NBA player is still considered to be in their prime. Remember, Nene just inked a deal last season, at the age of 28 years-old (at the time) for five years and $67 million (or more). So, McGee could, in theory, get $44 million now and perhaps another $70 million or so later ... maybe $114 million in two prime contracts. George Karl also said recently that he'd prefer to have a young talent like McGee on a shorter contract, give him a little additional incentive to keep working hard. So, the deal seems good for both sides.
In a summer where NBA teams were falling over themselves to hand out mega-deals to big men, the Nuggets were able to come to terms on a reasonable deal for McGee. Roy Hibbert re-signed with the Indiana Pacers for four-years and $58 million ($14.5M per season) and Brook Lopez re-upped with the Nets for four-years and $60 million ($15M per season).
Last summer the Golden State Warriors signed restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan to a four-year $43 million ($10.75M per season) offer sheet that the Los Angeles Clippers matched. That was deemed a lot of money for a guy with little offensive game, but a lot of athleticism (and a close friend with Blake Griffin).
McGee's deal pays him slightly more than DeAndre and one could say they are similar players ... raw offense, lots of athletic ability, and young. McGee appeared in 20 games for the Nuggets and started five. He accepted his role off the bench and turned in some fine performances and highlight reel plays. Pairing Andre Miller with McGee was a move that paid off for Karl and bringing both of them back should help McGee's ability to get easy buckets, see oop, alley.
McGee shot an impressive 61% with the Nuggets and averaged 7.6 shots per game. He struggled from the free throw line, shooting just 37% with Denver, but for the first time in the NBA and perhaps his entire career, he had coaches or a coach giving him instruction and helped him create a routine from the charity stripe.
Former Nuggets assistant coach Kim Hughes told me in Las Vegas, in reference to free throw shooting, that it's important to have one guy instructing a player on free throw shooting. Too many opinions and too many different tips from too many voices can throw a player off. McGee is a career 58.1% free throw shooter, so we should see some improvement over his 37% in Denver.
McGee loves to block shots and will often go for blocks over the smarter defensive play, boxing out his man and setting up for the rebound. The Nuggets will stress staying home more to McGee and that should see his 5.8 rebounds per game in Denver go up as well.
JaVale displayed an across the lane hook-shot that he apparently picked up from working with coaches at UCLA last year after watching tape on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Nuggets announced, and Hakeem Olajuwon too, that McGee would be working with Mr. Dream Shake himself before the season. The more he works on his post-game, the better. His hook shot may get a snide comment from the casual observer, but the more he hits that shot at a consistent rate, the more he'll silence his critics.
And McGee will get his fair share of critics for the money he's making and the Nuggets will take a little heat for giving big money to an unproven player, but it's a friendly deal for both sides and one that should excite Nuggets Nation. McGee has been working out with the Nuggets on-and-off this summer and now the coaches can really sink their teeth in. We should expect to see more of the maturity McGee displayed in Denver last season on the court this upcoming season and we should all be excited to see his growth as a player.
I have to wonder if it was a coincidence that I was watching, "Batman Begins" when I saw McGee's tweet. Masai Ujiri (aka Batman) strikes again and the Nuggets are ready to rise in the NBA.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nate_Timmons
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