UPDATE (8/29): The Dallas Mavericks announced that they have officially requested waivers on JaVale McGee. He is set to become a free agent once he clears waivers. His time in Dallas has come to a close. The original story is below.
Multiple NBA insiders are reporting that the Mavericks will not only stretch-and-waive center JaVale McGee before the Aug. 31 deadline, but additionally use that freed up roster spot to re-sign forward Markieff Morris.
NBA insider Marc Stein first reported the news about McGee being waived, while The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the detail about the Mavericks re-signing Morris.
According to the new CBA rules (helpfully explained by Spotrac’s Keith Smart), instead of the Mavericks paying McGee $5.7 million this season and $6 million next season, the Mavericks will now have McGee on the books for $2.3 million per season for the next five years, so presumably the last year McGee counts on the Mavericks cap sheet will be 2028.
Dallas signed McGee last summer, using most of its mid-level exception to give him a three year, $17.2 million deal. McGee was expected to be the starting center, someone to shore up the Mavericks weak front court depth after Warriors center Kevon Looney averaged a double-double against the Mavericks in the 2022 Western Conference Finals. It turned out to be one of the many issues that plagued Dallas lasts season, as McGee started only the first six games of the season before being removed from the rotation entirely due to poor play.
McGee only played in 667 possessions last season, and according to stats site Cleaning the Glass, the Mavericks team net-rating in those possessions was a minus-nine, with the defense giving up just a shade over 118 points per 100 possessions. For McGee to go from hopeful starting center to being waived one season into his three year deal just underscores how poor a signing right from the start this was for Dallas. You can debate amongst yourselves whether it’s wise for the Mavericks to stretch and waive McGee now as opposed to just straight up waiving him — it basically comes down to whether you think it’s better for the Mavericks to eat his full contract now for this season and the next or take smaller portions over the next five years. We won’t really know the answer to that until we see what moves the Mavericks make next summer that are enabled by saving a few extra million that would have gone to McGee.
Now the Mavericks can move on, and as part of this, they’re reportedly bringing back the veteran forward Morris, who came over from Brooklyn as part of the Kyrie Irving trade. Bringing back Morris is odd to say nothing else, since Morris only played in eight games for Dallas after the February trade deadline, averaging 8.8 minutes per game. While Dallas does have the need for another bigger wing, that’s mostly a starting caliber one — the Mavericks front court depth is awfully crowded with Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Grant Williams, Dereck Lively, Richaun Holmes, and even O-Max Prosper and freshly signed Derick Jones Jr. capable of giving minutes at the four. It’s not sure how Morris would figure into any playing time barring injury unless there’s a larger trade made later, so the best assumption is that Morris is sticking around as a veteran locker room presence. UPDATE: Stein is reporting that Morris’ deal to come back to Dallas is non-guaranteed, so really no harm, no foul here. The Mavericks can waive Morris if something better comes along without any harm to their cap sheet.
Stein indicated in his initial reporting the Mavericks will try to move McGee in a trade before that Aug. 31 deadline, but with that only being about a week away, it feels unlikely. With these two moves, the Mavericks roster will likely be set entering training camp, with further trades likely pushed closer to the 2024 trade deadline.