With the NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, some teams are shuffling around players in an attempt to either improve the roster or gather draft picks for the future. Between the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers, that’s exactly what these two teams did. with the trade involving JaVale McGee.
The Nuggets are receiving McGee, while the Cavs get Isaiah Hartenstein and two second-round picks:
Cleveland is acquiring a 2027 unprotected second-round pick and 2023 protected second-round pick protected through No. 46, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
This is a smart trade for both organizations and each one walks away with what they need.
The Nuggets are currently ranked fifth in the Western Conference and are in the middle of making a playoff push. They’re one of the better teams in the league and have just made themselves that much better after this trade. JaVale McGee isn’t an elite player, but he’s solid at his job. He’s averaging 8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in limited playing time. He’s coming into a Nuggets rotation that consists of one of the best centers in the league, Nikola Jokic.
McGee won’t be receiving starting time, instead, he’ll be serving as a high-end depth piece for this Nuggets team. They don’t need him to do too much and is now in the perfect situation to help him elevate his game. McGee will likely play alongside the bench squad and play as a reliable rebounder and defender whenever he’s spelling Jokic:
Why JaVale McGee? He's averaging 2.9 blocks/36 minutes this season, the 10th most in the NBA, and the Nuggets are the worst team in the league at defending the restricted area. Teams are shooting an NBA-best 65.7% from < 5 ft. vs. Denver. Hartenstein clearly wasn't the answer.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) March 25, 2021
A playoff team has just made themselves better, which is huge right now considering they’re only two games behind a depleted Los Angeles Lakers roster. Denver now has a great chance to finish within the top four in the West, while potentially making a push for the top three.
As for the Cavs, they remove an expendable player from their roster and add some youth and draft picks. The Cavs have been rebuilding since LeBron James’ departure, but they have some solid young players to build around. Darius Garland and Collin Sexton have the potential to become one of the best backcourts in the league. Considering McGee is 33 years old and already coming off the bench, this should be considered a good trade for Cleveland.
Isaiah Hartenstein is someone who was on the bottom of the Nuggets’ depth chart, playing just nine minutes per game. The 22-year-old now finds a new opportunity in Cleveland where he has the potential to earn more playing time. The two additional second-round picks also better the chances of Cleveland finding prospects in upcoming drafts. Considering this roster is so young, the Cavs should feel good walking away from this JaVale McGee deal.
Denver Nuggets: B+
Cleveland Cavaliers: B+
Both teams receive the same trade grade as they each walk away with exactly what they needed. The Nuggets improve their roster for a playoff run, while the Cavs gain a prospect and two additional draft picks. Additionally, JaVale McGee and Isaiah Hartenstein should enjoy their new homes. McGee is now on a playoff team, while Hartenstein should be receiving more playing time. This is one of those rare “win-win” situations for both organizations. An overall fair deal.