JaVale McGee’s Contract Offer: As Awful as My Bitter Heart Believes It to Be?

Posted: July 13, 2012 by conordirks in Opinions
Tags: , , ,

“In the Desert” by Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter – bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

When the Denver Nuggets traded Nene to the Washington Wizards several months after signing him to a hefty, long-term deal, the word out of the Mile-High City was that the front office had “buyer’s remorse.”  They made the trade in exchange for young center JaVale McGee, he of the Gumby arms, French nickname, “limitless potential” and ultimate confusion in regards to the rules of basketball.  A report from last night claims that JaVale is mulling over a five year, $50 million offer from the Nuggets.  What is there to think about, Pierre? Oh wait, Brook Lopez just got a max contract.

“Epic Vale” is a great shot-blocker, and an equally great goaltender.  While some of his antics are overblown, the most maddening ones are those that don’t make the Manichean highlight/lowlight reel.  With Denver and Washington last season, McGee had one of the worst on/off differentials in the league.  He routinely moves out of the way of players driving to the basket in order to go for blocks.  He actually manages to block some of those attempts, but here’s the rub: McGee has a tendency to send blocked basketballs out of bounds instead of to a uniformed player on his team, or to himself.

As Mike Prada at Bullets Forever pointed out way back in March, McGee’s relatively high PER (player efficiency rating) doesn’t actually mean he has helped his team win if garnered through statistically misleading means.  McGee’s offer comes from a Denver team that has, since trading away Carmelo Anthony, been more about the sum of their parts than featuring specific players.  $10 million per year is a substantial amount of a team’s $58 million salary cap.  But my real question is this: how does a team who felt buyer’s remorse on a proven center’s $13 million per year contract (Nene) go all in on JaVale McGee (career 8.6 ppg, 6.0 reb)for $50 million over five years?

For the sake of disclosure, I watched every Washington Wizards game last season.  And the season before that, etc.  I’ve followed, with great interest and despair, the career of JaVale McGee.  I have seen so many “breakout” games by this guy that I was barely fazed by his “breakout” game versus the Los Angeles Lakers in this year’s playoffs (others agreed).  McGee spent 15% of his time with the Wizards dominating basketball games, 50% of the time not contributing one way or the other, and 35% being abjectly awful.  Although former Washington Wizards are known to have great careers in other cities, I think that this contract sets too high a bar for a guy who has very little drive to become great.  The level of vitriol written herein can perhaps be attributed to bitterness.  Watching a player move on after he was painstakingly nurtured on your team is frustrating, and although I objectively wish him well, the guy who watched him all those years will be laughing his ass off in a mixture of incredulity and relief as he signs his new deal. (C. Dirks)

  1. the ders says:

    Nice article man. Keep them coming.

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