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The Mavericks should have cut JaVale McGee long ago

The long nightmare is finally over.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks announced Tuesday that they waived veteran center JaVale McGee. He was supposed to be Dallas’ marquee free agent signing in 2022, with head coach Jason Kidd awarding him a starting position before the ink was dry on his three-year, $20.1 million contract, but things never panned out for McGee and the Mavs.

Cutting ties with McGee during the dead of summer, seemingly as an afterthought, is a fitting way to dismiss a virtually nonexistent player who returned to Dallas last season. Signing the aging big man was a mistake, but the Mavericks finally wised up and corrected their egregious error.

The Mavericks should have never signed McGee. It was a knee-jerk reaction to Kevon Looney of the Golden State Warriors blitzing them on the glass in the 2022 Western Conference Finals. But even with a need for interior defense and rebounding so exposed, the notion that McGee could step in and help fill the void was confusing at best and delusional at worst.

McGee had fallen out of favor in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Denver, and Phoenix before making his way to Dallas. Some fans and team-affiliated personalities touted McGee’s championship pedigree when he signed his three-year deal. However, McGee didn’t appear in a single Finals game when he “won” his most recent championship with the Lakers — and Kidd — in 2020.

In 2022, the Mavericks played McGee off the floor in their seven-game playoff series win against the Phoenix Suns, with at-the-time third string center Bismack Biyombo taking his place in the rotation. He saw his most minutes, 16, in the Game 7 rout when Dallas walked away with a 33-point win. Even with so much garbage time, McGee failed to reach double digits in points and rebounding.

Yet, this was Dallas’ guy! Realistically, this was Kidd’s guy. The two formed a bond in L.A., and Kidd wanted to bring him in to provide some stability in the middle. The opposite happened.

Starting McGee was a failure. His presence stagnated the Mavericks’ formerly high-octane offense. He started seven of Dallas’ first nine games before Kidd reversed his audacious decision to insert him in the starting lineup. McGee lost his job to Dwight Powell and mostly road the bench in obscurity for the remainder of the season.

The Mavericks should have cut their losses sooner, with the McGee experiment a wash from the get-go. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Dallas will stretch the remaining $11.7 million it owes McGee over the next five years. This option was on the table all season, but they either couldn’t or wouldn’t own up to their mistake until now.

McGee was never going to pan out as a success in his return to Dallas. That much was certain from the start. However, his complete uselessness made his signing an exercise in futility, stubbornness, and lousy team building. Thankfully, the only thing left to say about his time in Dallas is “goodbye and good riddance.”