DENVER — The Denver Nuggets are bringing back center JaVale McGee in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The Nuggets will send power forward/center Isaiah Hartenstein to the Cavaliers along with protected second-round picks in 2023 and ’27. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal had not been announced.
It’s the second time the Nuggets have acquired McGee in a trade-deadline deal. They also picked him up from the Washington Wizards as part of a three-team exchange in 2012.
The 33-year-old McGee averaged eight points and 5.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game for the Cavs this season. In Denver, McGee will be a backup to All-Star big man Nikola Jokic.
This may be the start of a busy trade-deadline day for the Nuggets, who made it to the Western Conference final inside the NBA bubble last season before being eliminated by the champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets are 26-18 and fifth place in the standings.
A three-time NBA champion with Golden State and Los Angeles, McGee brings plenty of playoff experience to the Nuggets.
McGee has been invaluable to the Cavs this season, serving not only as a backup but mentor to the team’s young core. He also was their “hype man,” leading their pregame huddles and often waving to fans as the Cavs took the floor for warmups.
The 7-footer has been a source of energy and optimism for Cleveland, which started well before going into a slide. The Cavs are still hoping to make it into the play-in.
With trade talks picking up, the team chose to rest McGee on Wednesday night in Cleveland’s win at Chicago.
Moving McGee might not be the last trade for the Cavs. Center Andre Drummond, who hasn’t played since he mid-February, has also drawn interest from teams looking for a big man and forwards Cedi Osman and Taurean Prince could find themselves elsewhere.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.