BOSTON – The Boston Celtics were close to signing JaVale McGee back in March when the Philadelphia 76ers released him and thus made him a free agent.
Could a second go-around be the charm?
Despite the failed efforts by both sides to hammer out a deal earlier, the door hasn’t been totally slammed shut on the two coming together once again and seal a deal this time.
The sticking point previously was the Celtics’ desire to have a team option following the 2015-2016 season while McGee’s camp instead wanted a player option.
Boston’s salary cap situation this summer coupled with the league’s overall salary cap improvement the following year could pave the way for a two-year deal with McGee having an option to explore free agency in 2016 when many teams are expected to have substantial cap space to spend courtesy of the league’s new national TV deal kicking in.
The Celtics would be gambling that a good, successful season in Boston both individually and with the team, could be enough to entice the 27-year-old to want to sign a long-term deal.
Injuries and inconsistent play in recent years has derailed what many saw as a promising NBA career.
A 7-footer with immense athleticism who plays well above the rim, McGee was a highlight reel-in-waiting during his first three-plus seasons with the Washington Wizards.
But he wasn’t without his flaws and run-ins while playing in the nation’s capital.
While in Washington, McGee reportedly got into a fight with then-teammate Andray Blatche. Both players tried to downplay what happened, but the team eventually suspended them for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
There were lingering questions about his work ethic.
But Boston in the past couple of years has proven to be a good spot for players to restart their careers.
Former Celtic Kris Humphries was part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Jason Terry trade with Brooklyn in 2013 mainly because of his salary and expiring contract.
Humphries spent the entire season with Boston, put up decent numbers (8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds per game) and made the most of his opportunities to play which he parlayed into a 3-year, $13.32 million sign-and-trade deal that landed him in Washington.
Just this past season we saw Jae Crowder (acquired from Dallas) and Tyler Zeller (acquired from Cleveland) emerge from years of being on the bench, into solid rotation players who had major roles in Boston getting the Eastern Conference’s 7th seed in this year’s playoffs.
It’s not that big a stretch to envision McGee’s game taking off in a similar fashion.
“JaVale is a long, athletic guy,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show in March. “We don’t have that type of player, above the rim, offensive and defensive player.
Ainge added, “He hasn’t lived up to his potential yet. We’re hoping that he can under Brad’s tutelage. I think he’s at a good place emotionally and mentally. I think he really wants to get his career on the right path.”