Mavericks Carlisle on JaVale McGee: “The signs are good.”


Don’t look now but the Mavericks offseason free agent center pick-up, JaVale McGee, is on the cusp of finally joining the rotation.

In the mad scramble following the DeAndre Jordan fiasco, the Mavs signed almost every free agent center they could get their hands on. With nearly all of the proven starters off the market, the Mavericks built a rotation of unproven, flawed, one-dimensional, and/or damaged players.

One of those damaged, flawed, and one-dimensional players the Mavericks signed was 27 year old center, JaVale McGee. The seven year veteran comes with limitations and red flags aplenty. One of those red flags is his inability to stay on the court.

McGee was signed by the Mavericks to provide the things that starter Zaza Pachulia lacks – rim protection. Signed to a 1 year / $1,270,964 contract with a team option next season, McGee was the ultimate low risk/high reward player the Mavericks love to target.

Recovering from a left leg stress fracture, McGee has yet to join the Mavericks in game-time action this season, but according to coach Rick Carlisle, that is soon to change.

"“He’s doing a lot more, Carlisle told Eddie Sefko of the DMN. “We had a very good workout the other night – the most work he’s done all year. Things are getting better on a gradually progressive rate. The signs are good but there is no timetable. I just know we’re getting closer than we were.”"

The 7’0” 270lb center from Flint Michigan has surprising athleticism for a man his size. The offensively challenged center may not offer much in passing or shooting but he’s a legitimate rim protector and that’s something the Mavs severely lack this season.

Zaza Pachulia leads a center rotation that primarily features Salah Mejri and PF/C Dwight Powell. Adding a player like JaVale McGee to the rotation would not only solidify the unit, but move each player to a more skill-appropriate role.

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Pachulia, much like Dirk Nowitzki at PF, is a defensive liability. Having both players on the court at the same time leaves the Mavs in a very vulnerable situation in the paint. If McGee can take the bulk of the minutes alongside Dirk, the Mavs could diversify the talent on the court. Consequently, Zaza and Powell could form a frontcourt tandem that similarly utilize the skills of Zaza offensively and Powell defensively.

It’s unknown how many minutes McGee can contribute this winter while he gets back in game shape, but as long as he can stay healthy, the addition of JaVale is sure to push Salah Mejri down the bench. For as promising as Mejri has been these first few weeks, he’s better suited as spot role player at this point in his NBA development.

No one knows exactly when McGee will take the court for the Mavericks this season but it appears he’s on track to do so by the first week of December (at the latest).

"“It’s really just matter of when the docs say he’s ready, owner Mark Cuban said. “If we’d been able to have enough practices, it would be right around the corner.”"

The back-to-back games and travel days have been limiting the number of practices the Mavericks have been able to hold. McGee will need to test his leg under practice situations with teammates before he gets a crack at game-time action.

Said McGee,

"“It matters how you feel when you have people around you and getting contact.”"

Next: Why the Mavs Just can't Forgive and Forget

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Even better yet, JaVale McGee looks to be cleared to dive right into practice ASAP. Will the Mavs need to take it slowly with McGee?

"“There are no restrictions that I know of,” added Mark Cuban."