As JaVale McGee flipped through the pages of his new contract and signed multiple copies of the life-changing agreement, he kept his emotions in check.
The same couldn’t be said of Pamela McGee.
“My mother’s always more excited than I am,” JaVale McGee said Thursday. “When I was signing, she started to cry. I didn’t know if I was supposed to cry or not. I had those feelings in me but I’m not a big crier. It was a humbling moment.”
McGee and the Nuggets celebrated together Wednesday night when they finalized a multiyear contract that will keep the 24-year-old center in Denver for the foreseeable future.
Acquired by the Nuggets from Washington as part of a three-team trade on March 15, McGee enjoyed a productive two-month stretch that culminated with his first career playoff appearance.
After Denver was eliminated from the postseason, executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri vowed to re-sign McGee as a restricted free agent. He made good on that promise on Wednesday.
“There wasn’t really a doubt in my mind,” McGee said. “I felt Masai wanted to keep the chemistry of the team together.”
Over the course of 27 regular-season and playoff games with the Nuggets, McGee made a particular connection with veteran point guard Andre Miller, who often found him for easy lobs in transition.
McGee also formed an easy bond with the Denver coaching staff. Nuggets coach George Karl and his assistants kept their message simple, constantly reminding the 7-foot, 250-pound center to run the floor, run the floor and then run the floor some more.
“The coaching staff put me in situations where I could succeed,” McGee said. “There weren’t any plays run for me, but the coaches would say, ‘Rebound and run. No one will be able to keep up with you.’ ”
McGee already has blossomed in his short time under Karl – a Hall of Fame-caliber coach – and he is scheduled to receive personal instruction from Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon in August.
The Nuggets are hoping Olajuwon can help McGee develop a low-post game to complement the athleticism that makes him so effective in the open court.
“I’m definitely excited about getting better,” McGee said. “I’m sure (Olajuwon) is going to take my game to the next level.”
McGee, who has averaged 10.6 points and 7.9 rebounds in the past two seasons, said he wants to average a double-double next season and lead the NBA in blocked shots.
Most importantly, he wants to help the Nuggets continue their extended run of success. Denver is one of only three teams to reach the postseason in each of the past nine seasons.
“I’m excited about the future of the team,” McGee said. “I want to help lead the team on the floor and get us back to the playoffs.”