The Cleveland Cavaliers are trading big man JaVale McGee to the Denver Nuggets for third-year center Isaiah Hartenstein and two future second-round picks, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski -- a 2027 unprotected second-rounder and a 2023 protected second-rounder protected through No. 46. Trading for McGee gives the Nuggets some rim protection on defense, as he's averaging 1.2 blocks a game.
Denver ranks 11th in the league in points allowed in the paint (48.8), and adding McGee could potentially help with that. In 33 games with Cleveland, McGee averaged eight points and 5.2 rebounds while coming off the bench for the Cavaliers. McGee wasn't getting a ton of consistent minutes with Cleveland, and being traded to Denver allows him to once again join a contending team.
McGee was effective enough on defense in his two seasons with the Lakers prior to being traded to Cleveland before the start of this season. He averaged almost 10 points and seven assists in those two seasons in L.A., and the Nuggets are hoping he can replicate some of that success in Denver.
In return, the Cavs will be getting Hartenstein, who hasn't seen big minutes in his three seasons with the Nuggets, but standing at 7 feet tall, he'll certainly be a useful reserve for Cleveland. The Cavaliers could be busy leading up to the trade deadline Thursday afternoon, as Andre Drummond's name has been widely circulated as being a trade candidate. Several teams have been interested in acquiring the big man, although there is some expectation that the Cavaliers and Drummond work toward a buyout if a trade does not materialize before 3 p.m. ET.
- 2027 unprotected second-round pick
- 2023 protected second-round pick (protected through No. 46)
Nuggets trade grade: B
McGee will give Denver some depth in the frontcourt, which will come in handy when the postseason rolls around. He'll be more impactful than Hartenstein would've been for Denver, which is a plus, and while at face value giving up two second-round picks for McGee seems pricey, the protections on them make it worth it. The Nuggets have struggled to contain teams on the defensive side of the floor, and have found themselves in danger of tumbling down the standings in the West even further as only two games separates them and the eighth-place Mavericks. McGee isn't going to fix all their issues, but he will offer some help off the bench defensively for a team that is trying to make a run in the playoffs.
Cavaliers trade grade: B
Cleveland is working through a rebuild centered around Collin Sexton, and McGee doesn't fit into their timeline. Getting a younger big man and two draft picks in return is a good exchange for them going forward. The Cavs are are just four games back of the eighth spot in the East, and 2.5 games from the 10th spot, which would allow them to compete in the play-in game for the postseason. Moving McGee doesn't hamper their chances of making the playoffs at all, and it gives them future picks to work with as well.