Retirement not an option for McGee after ‘fine’ season with Kings

Retirement is not an option for McGee after an “fine” season that originally featured the Kings on NBC Sports Bay Area

NEW ORLEANS – JaVale McGee put the finishing touches on his outfit and began walking out of the visiting locker room at the Smoothie King Center on Friday night. While the rest of his Kings teammates headed to the shower or started getting dressed, McGee headed back to the court after the Kings’ season-ending 105-98 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA Play-In. Tournament.

Perhaps it’s customary for McGee to take a look at the arena as his season comes to an end. The game is forever ingrained in McGee. From his bloodlines to his basketball brain, his heart beats to the rhythm of a ball dancing on the hardwood.

This moment wasn’t the last time the 16-year-old pro took it all in. At least not yet.

Retirement is not an option for the 36-year-old center at this time, McGee told NBC Sports California on Friday evening.

“Just to play basketball,” McGee said when NBCSCA asked him what’s next for him. “Keep focusing, keep working.”

Sacramento signed McGee to a one-year deal in September, four days after the Dallas Mavericks waived him. McGee won two titles with the Golden State Warriors, while Kings coach Mike Brown was an assistant on Steve Kerr’s staff. The 7-footer was a natural fit for the Kings and he did far more than what he can still produce on the court.

But McGee played a career-high 7.4 minutes per game, serving as a backup to star center Domantas Sabonis, as well as veteran Alex Len. He averaged 4.0 points, also a career low, and 2.7 rebounds per game. McGee played 2 minutes, 13 seconds against his former team in the Kings’ win over the Warriors on Tuesday night, recording one blocked shot and one dunk.

He never had to take off his warm-up jacket Friday night in New Orleans, with two heavily wrapped legs on the bench, but always cheered on his teammates during the action and during timeouts.

“I feel like my experience was great,” McGee said of his season with the Kings. “Great group of guys. Obviously I wanted to go further and at least make the play-offs and go far, but that didn’t work out. But hey, it happens sometimes.

“We just have to make sure we make a decision this summer. “Everyone is getting their job done and making sure they do what they need to do so we can have a great season next year.”

McGee was the Kings’ oldest player this season at more than four years. Even in his limited role, McGee served as Sacramento’s spiritual leader in the midst of the Kings’ pregame meeting.

Whether it was stars like Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox or the bottom of the roster, McGee’s impact was felt and respected by all.

“Awesome,” Sabonis said of his experience as teammates with McGee. “Great veteran, great. He helped everyone – from me, Foxy, to the G League guys. He was always there, always had his great attitude and held us accountable for everything.”

McGee joins in unrestricted free agency that is open to all possibilities. He loves the game and doesn’t want to let it go. His career has gone from first round to being the butt of jokes all too often, to becoming a three-time champion and now at least a valued presence in the locker room.

Whatever his future holds, McGee didn’t hesitate to indicate what’s at the top of his priority list for his next destination – whether that’s a return to Sacramento or somewhere else.

“Definitely a winning opportunity,” McGee said. “Playing time obviously comes second. But winning is certain. Winning is my end goal more than anything.”

The Kings’ season ended much earlier than all of Sacramento had hoped. Now the marathon continues for McGee.