Storyline: Patrick McCaw Free Agency

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Marc Stein: Not yet clear how deeply the NBA will look into Cleveland’s signing and near-immediate release of restricted free agent Patrick McCaw. Asked if they would urge the league to do so, Warriors officials declined comment Monday. The Cavaliers signed the restricted free agent McCaw to a two-year, $6 million unguaranteed deal that Golden State declined to match. Cleveland waived McCaw after he appeared in just three games, setting up McCaw to become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers this week

“That’s a tough question,” McCaw said Monday, after his first practice with his new team, the Cavaliers. “I loved playing in Golden State,” McCaw continued. “My teammates, the coaches, it was nothing really … nothing stands out to me to say I didn’t want to go back. Think it was just a personal thing where I was just like, I think it was time for me to move on for a new opportunity within myself. Nothing against Golden State, front office, coaches, players, the environment, it had nothing to do with any of that. It’s just a personal thing, and I wanted a new opportunity to move on. “I can’t say anything other than it was all me. Nothing against Golden State. I just wanted to move on.”
2 weeks ago via ESPN

The deal is non-guaranteed, which means Cleveland doesn’t have to make a decision on keeping McCaw on its roster at a pro-rated $3 million for the rest of the season until January 7. McCaw’s 2019-20 contract is non-guaranteed for $3 million. The Cavaliers will get the opportunity to take a look at McCaw, a 23 year-old forward, for the rest of the season before deciding whether to guarantee the second year of his deal. Matching the McCaw offer sheet would’ve elevated the Warriors luxury tax bill $11.3 million to $61.6 million.

Lastly, the Warriors are sensitive what the integration process might entail involving McCaw’s return. How long would it take for McCaw to feel comfortable on the court after not playing professionally since logging limited minutes in the 2018 Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals? How long would it take for the Warriors’ bench to adjust considering Kerr has managed varying bench rotations to accommodate for new arrivals (McKinnie, Jonas Jerebko) and larger roles for young players (Bell, Kevon Looney, Quinn Cook)? To what extent would the Warriors’ locker room welcome McCaw back? “It would be an adjustment just because he hadn’t been playing with us and we have a new roster and a couple of new guys. But I think most of us would take him back with open arms,” Looney said. “Of course, we would talk to him and tease him a little bit and say, ‘It’s been a while’ and ask what he’s been up to. But we all love him. We won a championship together. At least for me, I definitely would’ve taken him back with open arms.”

Warriors forwards Draymond Green and Kevin Durant respectfully declined to speak too much about McCaw’s two-year saga with the Warriors that will likely end after rejecting their $1.7 million qualifying offer and two-year, $5.2 million deal. Both of them walked away after fielding a handful of questions related to McCaw, his prolonged holdout and how much contact they had with him during his unresolved free agency from July through the first three months of the 2019-20 regular season. They simply followed the unspoken rule in professional sports not to comment on other players’ business matters. Said Durant: “It’s not my forte. I just hoop.” Said Green: “That’s good for him, if that’s what he wanted. So we’ll just wait and see what our organization does and go from there.”

But McCaw, it’s been clear for awhile now, was so determined to force his way out that he put his career on hold until the right offer sheet at the right time would force the Warriors to balk. Cleveland gave it to him on Friday, a two-year non-guaranteed deal 10 days before the first-year salary of about $3 million will guarantee. The Warriors, sources say, are leaning strongly toward declining it. (They also are believed to have offered McCaw a two-year deal with some guaranteed money earlier this year, which he declined.)

The Warriors have repeatedly stated their desire to keep their 15th and final roster spot open for flexibility in the buyout market and other player-adding avenues. If it elects to match McCaw’s offer sheet, Golden State would have to endure an $11.3-million hit against the luxury tax. There is also the fact that, after declining a $1.7 million qualifying offer and a two-year, $5.2 million offer from the Warriors, McCaw might not be welcomed back by many of his teammates nearly halfway through the season.

With the new year approaching and with second-year wing Alfonzo McKinnie, 26, remarkably earning a roster spot and cracking the rotation, the defending champs haven’t budged on their stance to maintain McCaw’s rights, sources said. Although there is interest from rivals in poaching away the versatile 6-foot-7 guard, teams have received word of the Warriors’ intentions and remain hesitant to submit an offer sheet, sources said. The Warriors can match any offer sheet McCaw receives from another team.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers told Bay Area News Group last week that he still wants to retain McCaw despite spending his second year dealing with a back injury and inconsistency. The Warriors do not plan to add another player to their 14-man roster so they can maintain financial flexibility. Though they signed training camp invitee Alfonzo McKinnie to a two-year deal, his contract does not become guaranteed until Jan. 10. The Warriors also own McCaw’s rights and have three days to match any offer sheet he receives. “I’d love to see him come back,” Lacob said of McCaw. “But if he doesn’t, we move on.”

Patrick​ McCaw has​ gone​ dark. His​ teammates have been​ reaching out​ and​ they can’t get a hold​ of him, talk​​ some sense into him. McCaw officially stayed away from all of this Warriors training camp and missed the entire preseason slate. The regular season starts in three days. A few Warriors players talked to him before camp, advising him on what to do. But as his holdout has continued, he has not responded to several players checking in on him. Veterans, champions — the kind of men McCaw should be listening to — are being shut out. “You can’t do this after two years,” one player said. “You’ve got to get the clout first. He doesn’t have the leverage.”

McCaw’s stance is more complicated but more important to understanding the current stalemate. He had a $1.7 million qualifying offer sitting on the table for months, which expired Monday night. He also had a two-year contract offer with a carrot for both sides — a $2-plus million starting salary for McCaw, which was larger than his qualifying offer, and a team option on that second year, sources indicated, which is an asset for the Warriors. McCaw’s representatives urged him to take one of the two choices, sources said, but he hasn’t.

That wouldn’t seem to make a ton of sense from a financial standpoint. After a rough second season that included a massive shooting slump, a fractured wrist and a nearly crippling back injury, McCaw didn’t find much of a market in restricted free agency. The Warriors’ guaranteed offer, it would appear, is the most lucrative available. But, reaffirmed by his Monday decision to let the qualifying offer expire, there’s something that’s becoming increasingly clear: This isn’t as much about money for McCaw as it is about opportunity. Sources indicate that both McCaw and his father, Jeff, who has become a vocal part of this process, believe a more expansive role is the best thing for his growth and eventual earning potential.

Training camp starts in less than a week and Patrick McCaw still hasn’t signed his qualifying offer to return to the Warriors. And according to Mark Medina, he isn’t even listed on the training camp roster — yet. The young wing is still holding out on a bigger deal from the Warriors and it appears that neither side is willing to budge at the moment. McCaw saw his role reduce in his sophomore season because of added wing depth and a few injuries that held him out of a large chunk of the season.

If McCaw doesn’t show up, maybe the Warriors will just stage an open competition and see if one of those younger options seizes the opportunity. But the most likely result remains McCaw’s eventual concession. A similar situation happened with center Alex Len in Phoenix last summer. He didn’t love his $4.2 million qualifying offer. He dragged the process deep into the summer. He finally accepted it on Sept. 21, right before camp.

Marcus Thompson: “The [Warriors] roster is set. There’s just one guy they’re waiting for. Patrick McCaw has a qualifying offer, and from how it was explained to me, it’s just a matter of – there’s no rush for him to sign it. It’s just sitting there. If another opportunity comes up, maybe somebody gets injured in a camp, maybe somebody wants to take a flier on him because they need a player, McCaw is just waiting until the last possible minute. …. In the end, I expect him to sign it and come back.”
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