JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee explains why first season with Lakers wasn't a total loss

JaVale McGee explains why first season with Lakers wasn't a total loss

The last two years, JaVale McGee played into mid-June with the Warriors' NBA championship teams.

McGee thought he had another deep playoff run upon him when he signed with the Lakers last summer.

But McGee's summer vacation will begin in mid-April with the Lakers failing to make the playoffs.

Surprisingly, McGee isn't losing too much sleep over this development.

“I wanted to make the playoffs again but with a bigger role,” McGee told The Athletic's Bill Oram. “We didn’t make the playoffs unfortunately, but I had a bigger role, so I don’t take it as something lost or anything.”

In his two seasons with the Warriors, McGee played in 142 regular-season games but started just 17 games. This season, he's started 57 of the 70 games in which he's played.

McGee is averaging 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game this season. During his two years in Oakland, McGee averaged 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per game.

[RELATED: Warriors present JaVale with ring]

McGee signed a one-year contract with the Lakers for the minimum, and despite his improved numbers, there's no guarantee he will be back with the team next season. While injuries have derailed the Lakers' season, it's a safe bet that the front office will overhaul the roster.

“It’s the NBA, so people don’t take, ‘Oh, they got injured, that’s probably why,’ " McGee told Oram. "No. They take it as, ‘It didn’t work.’ So I doubt they bring back the exact same group, but anything’s possible."

Warriors not exempt from uneasy times heading into NBA trade deadline

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USATSI

Warriors not exempt from uneasy times heading into NBA trade deadline

OAKLAND -- There could not have been two locker rooms in any NBA venue Saturday more rife with speculation, conversation and general angst than those at Oracle Arena.

In the home locker room on the east side, the Warriors were dealing with re-heated rumors involving the uncertain future of superstar forward Kevin Durant.

In the visitor’s locker room on the south side, the Lakers were coping with the superstar presence of LeBron James and the sense that every other member of the team is available as the front office chases New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who put himself on the trade market.

The Warriors, at least on this night, handled it with considerably more poise.

Seeking their fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals and in their third season under an unyielding spotlight that got hotter and brighter with the July 2106 arrival of Durant, the Warriors have become pros at navigating matters that can be prickly enough to derail their mission.

The youthful Lakers, however, are rookies at this, and their lack of experience revealed itself shortly after a 115-101 loss to the Warriors.

When Los Angeles coach Luke Walton urged his team to play smarter and more selflessly, several veteran reserves -- notably Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee -- responded by criticizing Walton’s player rotations. There reportedly was enough vehemence in the locker room that intervention from cooler heads was required.

Such squabbles are more likely to happen within teams anxious about what lies ahead. For the Lakers, raw feelings are acute because most of the players are facing the threat of trade and the deadline is noon (PST) Thursday. Players not named LeBron are wondering about and perhaps researching New Orleans, while also trying to remain focused on basketball.

“We addressed it before the season started,” Walton said. “We do our best not to pay attention to outside noise. Control what we can control. And that’s it. That goes for everyone in our locker room, in our group. They seem to be handling it pretty well.”

That was before the game. Asked about the state of the team after the game -- not long after the locker room dispute -- veteran guard Rajon Rondo echoed his coach.

[RELATED: Loss against Warriors was straw that broke Lakers' back]

"They seem pretty fine," he said of his teammates. "They're still in the gym working. They know at the end of the day they'll still have a job in the NBA regardless of where it is. They're learning in this league that trade talks happen all the time and each year that they'll be in the game, they'll understand that it's a business."

The older heads, such as Beasley and McGee, should understand. Beasley is on his seventh team, and McGee his sixth. Younger players like Kyle Kuzma (23 years old), Brandon Ingram (21) and Josh Hart (23) have really only known one team.

“It’s not easy if you in particular are reading your own name in trade rumors,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Anything like that is difficult.”

That’s where experience helps, according to Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala.

“We know how to deal with it because we’re so used to being in the spotlight,” he said. “We understand that whatever goes on with us is going to be under the microscope and blown out of proportion. We know how to ignore it. We don’t even address it. Maybe I might have a cryptic tweet. Draymond (Green) might say something. And then it blows up. But we’re like, ‘whatever.’”

[RELATED: Iguodala's busy night vs. Lakers full of laughs, dunks]

The Warriors still have their own lingering concerns, most of it swirling around Durant, who even while playing and producing is not wearing it well.

He’s hearing his name mentioned most frequently in regards to where he will play upon becoming a free agent in July. The subject heated up the past few days, when Davis requested a trade, the Knicks made a deal to clear cap space this summer, and Boston star Kyrie Irving -- who grew up in the shadow of New York City -- backed off a statement he made in October, telling Celtics fans his “plan” is to re-sign.

Those moves and comments shifted the rumor mill into overdrive, taking Durant along for the ride. He is coveted by the Knicks. He freely praises Irving. The obvious conclusion is that New York is fixating on Durant and Irving in July.

For the Warriors, there isn’t so much concern as there is dialogue, spoken and unspoken. Durant’s impending free agency has slid an undercurrent of annoyance beneath the team as it pursues a third consecutive championship.

The flashpoint came Nov. 12 in Los Angeles in the final moments of regulation against the Clippers, when Draymond Green turned on Durant and unleashed a verbal assault that sent the entire team into a tailspin for a couple weeks.

All parties insist they have moved on, that those wounds were only superficial and have healed. For the most part they have. Or had.

As the rumor mill grinds on, bringing unwanted topics back into view, KD has not been his usual self. The sly sense of humor so prevalent a few weeks ago has faded, replaced by a mask of gloom.

“I’ve been on other teams with guys who aren’t used to being in the spotlight and then something comes up that may be considered gossipy or trade talks, guys don’t know how to react,” Iguodala said. “And it messes with your psyche. People don’t understand that.

“But because we’ve been in it and we’ve been dealing with it for four or five years, it’s second nature to us.”

[RELATED: Lacob on KD, Klay: 'Nobody's going to outspend' Warriors]

This is today’s NBA. One player in New Orleans makes it known he wants out, and his request affects two locker rooms, his own and one in Los Angeles. Neither is a comfortable place right now.

One team in New York makes a blockbuster trade, said to be the result of its star, Kristaps Porzingis, wanting out, and it affects locker rooms in Boston, Oakland, Dallas and New York.

The debate is whether the unrest is good or bad when, actually, it is both. The NBA was newsier than the NFL during Super Bowl week. And NBA stars can easily be perceived as impatient or petulant or needy.

Jeff Van Gundy, the two-time NBA head coach who serves as an analyst for ABC/ESPN, offered a theory during the Warriors Insider Podcast this week.

“It may be something that impacts the NBA in a positive way because of the interest,” he said of the unrest. “But not as many people like the game of basketball as they like the drama of the NBA.”

Andre Iguodala propels Warriors, continues torrid streak vs. Lakers

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AP

Andre Iguodala propels Warriors, continues torrid streak vs. Lakers

OAKLAND -- Andre Iguodala knew he was giving JaVale McGee his NBA championship ring from last season prior to the start of Saturday night's Warriors-Lakers game at Oracle Arena.

What he couldn't have known at that time was that piece of jewelry was not the only thing he'd be giving -- or rather, doing to -- his former Warriors teammate.

Late in the third quarter, Iguodala found a lane with only McGee in front of him. The 15-year NBA veteran displayed zero indecisiveness, going up strong and throwing down a ferocious dunk as McGee -- making a business decision -- stepped to the side.

As Iguodala turned to make his way back up the court on defense, he shot McGee quite a look.

Not one of anger or animosity, though. This was an exchange between friends.

"JaVale and I, we've been teammates on a couple teams," Iguodala said following the Warriors' 115-101 win, "so it's always funny when that happens. I've tried him a few times, never quite got him, so I was just having fun at the time."

The closeness between the former teammates was on display when Iguodala gave McGee his 2017-18 championship ring prior to the opening tip, but not before a little mischief. When McGee first opened the box, there was no ring inside.

"That just happened like right there," Iguodala said. "JaVale's like a close friend of mine, like I consider him a brother, family. So, we always play jokes on each other when we're in each other's presence. So, I was just messing with him a little bit."

Those two interactions with McGee were highlights of Iguodala's busy night against the Lakers, but certainly not the extent of them.

Less than a minute before Iguodala's slam over McGee, DeMarcus Cousins posterized Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, escalating the noise in Oracle Arena to a level that probably hasn't been reached at any other point this season. And, naturally, Iguodala played a part.

"I think I'm the reason why [Cousins] got a tech," Iguodala joked, "because I actually grabbed him and was like 'good shot, good job' or whatever, but the ref might have interpreted that as grabbing him and standing over a guy. Gave him a tech, so I don't know."

[RELATED: How Boogie's dunk was key turning point in Warriors' win]

On a night when Stephen Curry didn't make his first field goal until midway through the fourth quarter, Iguodala stepped up and came through for Golden State.

In total, he tallied 17 points, three assists and four rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench in the Warriors' win over the Lakers on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. He also was a game-best plus-23 on the night. 

It was the continuation of -- for whatever reason -- Iguodala's dominance of the Lakers this season. In three games against Los Angeles, Iguodala now has scored 46 total points on 19-of-24 (79.2 percent) shooting from the field.

"I've always tried to play my game based on what's going on with our team, and that was the case, just with the two games [at Oracle]," Iguodala said of his success against the Lakers. "So, it's just a matter of trying to figure out when to put the foot on the gas pedal at certain times, especially when we're vulnerable or when the teams go on a little bit of a run."

As great as Iguodala's performance was against the Lakers on Saturday, it was equally poor in the loss to the 76ers on Thursday, in which he failed to score and finished the game a minus-12. Iguodala's ability to put that substandard outing behind him stood out to Kerr.

"Andre has had a tremendous season," Kerr said. "He's been playing like this -- he had a tough game last game against Philadelphia, but when you look at the way he's played over the course of the year, this is not surprising. He's had a brilliant year."

Barring a playoff series -- or an extremely unlikely trade -- the Lakers will only face Iguodala one more time this season, on April 4 in Los Angeles.

Based on how he's played against them in the three games thus far, you can bet that doesn't hurt the Lakers' feelings.

Well, maybe McGee's.