Suns’ Shamet: ‘We’re deep for sure’

On Thursday night, the Phoenix Suns routed the Washington Wizards 118-98 at Footprint Center.

With the win, the Suns, who had eight players in double figures, are 23-5 on the season, the team’s best start to a season through the first 28 games since the 2004-05 season. 

Chris Paul, the only man with 20,000 points and 10,000 assists in NBA history, leads the NBA in assists per game(10.1). According to JaVale McGee, who had a team-high 17 points in 16 minutes against Washington, Paul, who had a team-high six assists Thursday, can see any and everything on the court.

“He’s a mind; he’s like a mega-mind when it comes to basketball,” McGee explained about Paul. “And the fact that he’s a point guard who controls the ball the whole game is even better. He sees things before they happen; he sees things that happened four plays ago that he can tell you about. His mind is just really basketball-oriented, and he knows where guys are supposed to be, and he knows where to put the ball. And when you have a point guard like that as your starting point guard, the backup point guard looks up to him and takes nuances from him, and it just trickles down.”

Phoenix is still getting it done without their leading scorer, Devin Booker, who missed the last seven games with a hamstring injury. That includes Landry Shamet, who started his seventh straight game for Booker and added 16 points, including four threes against Washington. 

McGee says the Suns have that “next-man mindset.”

“I think I’ve said this before; we have that next-man mindset,” McGee said. “So, (Landry) Shamet has been doing a great job stepping into that role, and when he goes back to the bench, he is still going to be a top-performing player. I don’t think it’s anything that we’ve done different, we just play our ball. It’s always been team basketball; Book (Devin Booker) just; weapons to score a lot of points around our team basketball. As a whole, we’re a good team at getting everybody the ball.”

Shamet added: “We’re deep for sure. I think more than anything is we play together; we trust each other, play the right way, and a way that enables us to have those numbers and multiple guys in double figures. Every night it could be somebody different in the spot. We have a lot of interchangeable pieces, guys who are comfortable in filling in different roles.”

Phoenix gets back at it on Sunday night against the visiting Hornets.

Suns’ McGee: If I was in Phoenix last year, we probably would have won a championship

Phoenix, you have a winner in town. Backup center JaVale McGee is a winner. He has been a part of three of the last five NBA Finals’ winning teams and got his last title in 2020 with the Lakers.

In addition, he won a Gold Medal last summer in Tokyo. The three-time champion signed with last year’s Western Conference champions, the Phoenix Suns, in the offseason.

On Friday, McGee started for Suns center Deandre Ayton(illness) against the Boston Celtics, and he played well. McGee had his fourth double-double of the season, with a season and team-high 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. This was McGee’s 10th career game of 20-plus points and 15-plus rebounds.

Ultimately, the Suns(21-4) would rout the visiting Celtics(13-14) 111-90.

In 25 games, McGee averages 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds off the bench.

Last season, Phoenix had Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky as Ayton’s backup, but it’s clear after 25 games that McGee is an upgrade, and according to McGee, if he were in Phoenix last season, the Suns would have won a championship.

“I definitely bring championship experience,’ McGee said post-game. “I’ve been there and won it. I’m undefeated in the Finals. It’s just a challenge through the whole season to stay locked in, and I try to bring that energy every game, every practice. Every day they see me, I try to bring that great energy to the guys. Some guys have a bad history of being a cancer to a team, or they didn’t play well this game, or they didn’t play a lot this game, and that’ll change their whole mood. I’m not that guy. I’m the same way. If you ask any of my teammates, any of the coaching staff, of any team I played for too. For example, if you asked guys last year in Denver, I didn’t even play, but I was still being that guy, that energy guy, even though I didn’t play. So, it’s just what I bring to teams when I come. Yeah, I feel like if I was here(Phoenix) last year and I got traded here instead of Denver, we probably would have won.”

What McGee is saying is not far-fetched. In fact, the Suns may have won last year if McGee was on the roster. The guy just does winning things and makes winning plays. 

In Game 1 of the Finals, Phoenix lost Saric to an ACL injury, which impacted the depth in the frontcourt. Also, the Suns were up 2-0 in the Finals against the Bucks, and maybe a guy like McGee, who has Finals’ experience, could have helped Phoenix get it done. 

Phoenix is tied with the Warriors for the best record in basketball right now, and it appears that they will have a great shot to get back to the NBA Finals, so we’ll put McGee’s beliefs to the test this season. 

Will he be the difference? We’ll find out in June.

Notes:

-The Suns limited the Celtics to just four three-point field goals on 26 attempts(15.4%), the four threes and 15.4% were both season lows by a Suns’ opponent.

Up two (32-30) with 8:16 remaining in the first half, the Suns closed out the second quarter on a 25-9 run to take an 18-point, 57-39 lead into the halftime break. Phoenix’s lead never dwindled below double figures the rest of the game. 

Watch below as McGee talks win over Celtics, and more:

Suns officially sign C JaVale McGee

The Phoenix Suns have officially signed free agent center JaVale McGee, the team announced on Monday.

According to reports, it’s a one-year deal worth $5 million.

McGee, 33, is a three-time NBA champion who won an Olympic gold medal earlier this month as a member of the U.S. men’s national team. In Tokyo, he teamed with Suns guard Devin Booker for the U.S., totaling 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting in 20 minutes played over four games.

The 13-year veteran began last season with Cleveland before being acquired by Denver, where he faced the Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals. He averaged 7.3 points on 51.1% shooting, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 14.7 minutes in 46 appearances during the 2020-21 season. 

McGee has won league titles with Golden State in 2017 and 2018 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. He holds 7.8 points on 57.1% shooting, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 747 games (319 starts) with Washington, Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, Golden State, the L.A. Lakers, and Cleveland.

He has also appeared in 62 career playoff games (23 starts), averaging 5.4 points on 59.9% shooting, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 12.6 minutes.

McGee is a winner and contributes to winning, and the Suns can use a solid backup like him next season.

Johnson, McGee added to Team USA, Love withdraws

USA Basketball announced on Friday the addition of USA Select Team guard Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs) and NBA veteran center JaVale McGee (Denver Nuggets) to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball roster. Johnson and McGee fill openings created after Bradley Beal went into health and safety protocol and following Kevin Love’s announcement Friday morning that he was withdrawing from the team due to his ongoing calf recovery.

The pair join previously announced U.S. Olympic Team 2020 members: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics).

Because of their current involvement in the 2021 NBA Finals, Booker, Holiday, and Middleton will join the USA squad after completion of the Finals.

The USA coaching staff is led by head coach Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) with assistant coaches Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), Lloyd Pierce, and Jay Wright (Villanova University).

Johnson, a 6-foot-5 guard, attended the national team’s Las Vegas training camp as a member of the USA Select Team and was added to the USA roster for the team’s exhibition games. He has seen action in two of the USA’s three exhibition games in Las Vegas, averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Having completed his second season with the Spurs in 2020-21, he started 67 of the 69 games he played in and averaged 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

A 7-foot center, McGee completed in 2020-21 his 13th NBA regular season. Playing 33 games in 2020-21 for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 13 games for the Denver Nuggets, McGee averaged 7.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game.

The rescheduled Summer Olympic Games are being held July 23-Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan. Twelve nations will compete in the Olympic men’s basketball competition that will be held at the Saitama Super Arena. In addition, to host Japan, nations qualified for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball competition include Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Nigeria, Slovenia, Spain, and the United States. 

The American men will open the Olympic preliminary round play on July 25 against France (8 a.m. EDT), then will play Iran on July 28 (12:40 a.m. EDT) and will close out preliminary play on July 31 (8:00 a.m. EDT) versus the Czech Republic.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Bulls; ‘We had a bunch of guys who contributed tonight’

The shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers(17-27) went into Chicago(19-24) to battle the Bulls on Wednesday night, and while they did not have their leading scorer Collin Sexton, who was out due to a sore hamstring, they did have Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr., and Jarrett Allen, who all did their part.

Cleveland had five guys in double figures against the Bulls. Led by Garland, who had 22 points and nine assists, Nance Jr. chipped in with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists, and Allen contributed 19 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks as the Cavs defeated the Bulls on the road 103-94. 

Without Sexton, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff knew he needed everybody else to step up, and they did.

“Our guys did a heck of a job,” Bickerstaff said. “It wasn’t going to be one person that fills that void. It was going to have to be a bunch of different people that step up. You look up and down our boxscore; we had five guys in double figures…We had a bunch of guys who contributed tonight.”

Defensively, Cleveland got a big effort from rookie Isaac Okoro, who held Chicago’s leading scorer Zach LaVine to 8-20 shooting from the field. LaVine did have 22 points, but only four points in the second half. The Cavs defense played well as a whole and held the Bulls to 17 points in the third quarter, which helped Cleveland take a 78-72 lead into the fourth quarter.

Now, for Cleveland, their attention turns to the trade deadline, which is Thursday at 3 P.M. ET. Cavaliers reserve center JaVale McGee did not play on Wednesday night. When asked why McGee did not play against Chicago, Bickerstaff said the following:

“We are concentrating on the guys that were playing tonight,” he said. “We’ll focus on that, and I let (Cavs GM)Koby(Altman) answer any of those other questions.”

The 33-year-old McGee will probably be on the move, but just like every year near the trade deadline, there are usually more rumors than actual deals, but we’ll see what happens with McGee.

Also, we’ll see what happens with Andre Drummond, who has not played since mid-February as the team looked to trade the two-time All-Star. Will he get dealt, or will Cleveland buy him out?

We’ll find out soon enough.

 Notes:

-Cavs continue their four-game road trip on Friday night against the Lakers.

-With the win against Chicago on Wednesday night, Cleveland moved to 2.5 games behind the Bulls for the 10th and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavs’ McGee not bothered by hearing his name in trade talks

On Sunday night, in their win over the Raptors, Cleveland(16-27) got a big-time performance out of Collin Sexton, who scored 23 of his 36 points in the second half. However, Monday night against the visiting Sacramento Kings was a different story for Sexton and the Cavaliers. 

Sexton was held to 15 points on Monday night, and behind De’Aaron Fox’s 30 points and rookie Tyrese Haliburton’s career-high 28 points, Sacramento(18-25) defeated the Cavaliers 119-105.

Cleveland went 2-2 on their four-game homestand and get ready to embark on a four-game road trip starting on Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls.

According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team does need Sexton to score at a high level to be successful, but they also need to play better defense. Cleveland allowed the Kings to shoot 54% from the field, including 13-30 from three-point range.

There’s no doubt about it. We need Collin to score, for sure,” Bickerstaff said. “Again, we gave up 119. To me, that was the bigger issue than our offense.” 

Cleveland did look sluggish in the second game of a back-to-back, and while Bickerstaff did not blame the loss on the back-to-back, he did notice that the team did not have enough energy on Monday night.

“Whatever the reason was, we just didn’t have that fight, that spark, that energy,” he said. “We tried, and I give our guys credit for trying, but we just couldn’t put it together consistently.”

Cleveland’s bright spot was the play of reserve center JaVale McGee, who scored a season and team-high 18 points and collected a team-high tying nine rebounds against the Kings. 

“I thought JaVale gave us a nice lift off the bench with the group he was out there with,” Bickerstaff said.

McGee, 33, could be on the move before Thursday’s trade deadline, but according to the 12-year veteran, hearing his name in trade rumors does not bother him. 

“It’s definitely hard when you’re in trade talks as a younger player, I feel like,” he said. “But as an older player, as myself, I’ve been in trade talks plenty of years, plenty of times, so I’ve figured how to block it out and play my game.” 

McGee, who was acquired from the Lakers back in November, could help a contending team, and you almost hope he gets that opportunity. However, he’s been one of the veteran leaders for this team, and as a three-time champion, he can help these young Cavs learn how to win. It should be interesting to see if McGee will be in Cleveland after the deadline.  

  

 

Cavs’ McGee: ‘We’re not a team that just gives up”

It appears that the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-21) may have figured out their issues and have turned things around. Cleveland got their second straight road win and their fourth straight victory overall after defeating Houston(11-22) 101-90 on Monday night.

Collin Sexton was very dynamic against the Rockets. He was 12-20 from the field, including 4-8 from three-point range for 39 points. Sexton also added eight assists.

“He was not going to let us lose,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Sexton after the game. “And again, they do make it tough on you because they have some very good individual defenders, and they can switch with length. It turns into where you have to beat your man, and Collin has the ability to beat his man. He was awesome for us tonight.”

During the Cavs’ four-game winning streak, Sexton is averaging 29.8 ppg, and according to Sexton, he felt he needed to do more for his team.

“I put many hours in the gym each and every day,” Sexton said. “I knew I had to be better for my teammates.”

Two weeks ago, during their 10-game losing streak, it appeared the Cavs had lost their way and would struggle the rest of the season, but to the credit of the players and coaching staff, Cleveland has has not quit.

“We’re not a team that just gives up,” JaVale McGee said after scoring 10 points off the bench against Houston. “We are in the East right now, so maybe we’re three or four games out of the playoffs(2.5 games), which is crazy when you think about it after losing ten in a row.”

Cleveland plays their final game before the All-Star break at home against the Pacers on Wednesday night with a chance to make it five straight.

Cavs’ Nance Jr.: ‘We’re a very real team with very real ambitions’

When the Cavaliers decided to put together a backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, they envisioned nights like what they got in the season-opener against the Hornets. Behind Sexton’s 27 points and Garland’s 22 points, Cleveland(1-0) defeated Charlotte(0-1) 121-114 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night.

Many have questioned whether two 6-1 guards, who both like to have the ball in their hands, can work for Cleveland. However, while they did allow Charlotte’s Terry Rozier to score 42 points, including 36 points in the second half on Wednesday, Sexton and Garland were very effective on the offensive end and combined for 49 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds.

“It’s always going to be downs; It’s always going to be ups,” Sexton said. “Once you figure it out, we will be solid. At the end of the day, I’m not going to doubt my guy. At the end of the day, he has my back, and I have his, so we’re going to go to war together. Simple as that.”

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which shutdown the NBA season, Wednesday’s game against Charlotte marked the first time Cleveland had played a game since March. Last season, Cleveland had a lot of struggles. Ultimately, the team won only 19 games.

Entering this season, there is some hope for the Cavaliers, and according to the third-year guard, this team is much different than a year ago.

“I feel like we’re a changed team, completely,” Sexton said. “We got depth coming off the bench. We got some guys who know how to win, so I definitely feel like the message was sent. I feel like we have to continue to get better, continue to strive in the right direction so that everybody knows that we’re not going to lay down. We’re not going to roll over for nobody so that just comes on the defensive end. I feel like we’re the toughest team out there.”

Larry Nance Jr., who had 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists, agrees with Sexton and believes Cleveland will be tough to beat this season.

“We’re not doing what we did the past two years,” Nance Jr. said. “We’re not winning 19 games this year; we’re not winning 20 games this year; we’re not winning 25 games this year. We’re here. We’re a very real team with very real ambitions.”

The Cavaliers were without Kevin Love on Wednesday, who is dealing with a calf injury. However, Cleveland’s depth was on full display against Charlotte. The Cavaliers got 34 points from their bench, including 13 points from their newest addition JaVale McGee, who recently won a championship with the Lakers last season. Sexton views the 32-year-old McGee as one of the leaders of the Cavaliers.

“JaVale’s(McGee) a champion,” Sexton said. “He knows what it takes. You could hear his energy no matter what. He’s always there uplifting guys. He’s a straight leader, and he leads by example as well. We need that one vet that’s going to get into everybody and not sugarcoat anything, and I feel like that’s JaVale.”

It’s only one game, but this was a good start for the Cavaliers. They appear to have a nice mix of veterans and young players, which could serve this team well moving forward.

Cavaliers acquire McGee from Lakers

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired center JaVale McGee and a 2026 second round draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for forwards Alfonzo McKinnie and Jordan Bell, the teams announced on Monday.

During the 2019-20 season, the 32-year-old McGee appeared in 68 games, averaging 6.6 points on .637 shooting, 5.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 16.6 minutes. McGee has appeared in 58 career playoff games, averaging 5.6 points on .612 shooting, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 12.9 minutes. Last season also marked McGee’s third NBA Championship after winning two titles with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

The 12-year veteran has played for Washington, Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, Golden State and the Lakers.

In a separate transaction with the Milwaukee Bucks on November 18th, the Cavaliers acquired the Bucks’ 2025 second round draft pick in exchange for the draft rights to Ilkan Karaman (originally drafted in 2012 by the Brooklyn Nets). The protections on the first round pick for the first allowable draft (2022) previously conveyed to the Cavaliers from Milwaukee in a trade on Dec. 7, 2018 have been removed, making it an unprotected first round pick.