JaVale McGee is not slated to come off the inactive list and play anytime soon.
“I’ve got to get some practices in first,” the Dallas Mavericks center said before Monday’s game in Philadelphia. “Anywhere you go in the NBA they don’t let you play unless you get to practice, so I’ve got to get my practices in.”
McGee, who is recovering from a left leg stress fracture, has made considerable progress since joining the Mavs as a free agent on Aug. 13. But the Mavericks’ hectic game schedule hasn’t afforded him much practice time with his teammates.
“He’s doing a lot more,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He had a very good workout the other night before the game — it’s been the most work he’s done all year.
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“Things are getting better on a gradually progressive rate, so the signs are good. But there is no timetable. I just know that we’re closer than we were.”
Whenever he returns, the Mavericks are hoping the 7-foot, 270-pounder can become the rim protector they so covet.
“He’s really, really long and athletic,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “I think he’s getting better and better by the week, so we’d love to see what he can bring to the team, so we just have to be patient with him.
“Obviously we don’t want to make things worse again. I guess the doctors are taking it slow and we’ll go from there.”
McGee spent two weeks with the Sixers last season before they bought out his contract. He has fond memories of his brief stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
“It was great, actually,” McGee said. “The staff here and the coaches are great.
He’s really, really long and athletic. I think he’s getting better and better by the week, so we’d love to see what he can bring to the team, so we just have to be patient with him.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on JaVale McGee
“The guys all come together. Last year they were real hungry by far.”
With the Mavs already 11 games into this season, McGee is eager to get on the court and earn his paycheck.
“I did a lot of defensive slides [before Monday’s game],” McGee said. “I’m just trying to get my quickness and alertness back.
“It’s really frustrating, especially seeing things out there that’s happening that I would be able to contribute to with my athleticism and my shot-blocking ability. I’m definitely just counting the days of just being able to get out there on the floor and help my teammates out.”
It’s really frustrating, especially seeing things out there that’s happening that I would be able to contribute to with my athleticism and my shot-blocking ability.
McGee on sitting out
If anyone knows the pulse of the Dallas Mavericks, it’s Nowitzki.
The veteran forward is in his 18th season — all with the Mavs — and what he’s seen in the first one-eighth of this season has impressed him exponentially.
“We’re probably one of the smartest teams I’ve been on here in the last few years,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got a high basketball IQ.”
That high basketball IQ, owner Mark Cuban insists, starts at the center spot.
“A lot of that is attributable to Zaza [Pachulia],” Cuban said. “Zaza really knows what he’s doing and how to do it down there.
“He may not be a rim protector, but he knows where he needs to be — how and when — and he’s vocal. If you watch him defensively, he’s telling guys where they need to be, and that really helps Dirk.”