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The Warriors want Patrick McCaw back, but also want him to explore his options

After a difficult year, Patrick McCaw will likely end up back with Golden State. But the team is encouraging him to look around.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors are fond of Patrick McCaw. After purchasing a second-round selection in the 2016 NBA Draft to pick McCaw, the team has been vocal about their belief that he can fill the Andre Iguodala role, as Iguodala enters the latter stages of his career, and eventually hangs up his Nikes.

Of course, in order to play that role with the team, McCaw needs to be . . . well . . . a member of the team. And that’s where things get a little tricky, as McCaw is a free agent this summer.

However, McCaw is a restricted free agent, meaning the Warriors can match any offer that he signs from another team. And it would seem likely that they will, especially since McCaw is unlikely to get a very big offer elsewhere.

What’s best for Pat

While the Warriors have made it clear that they hope to retain McCaw, they’re also encouraging him to test the free agent waters, and find what’s best for him. Warriors’ assistant general manager Kirk Lacob stressed this on a recent radio appearance on KNBR 680.

As transcribed by NBC Sports, Lacob said that, “We love Pat, and we really hope he’s back . . . Like any player, we would tell him: ‘This is about you and your life. It’s not about us. We really hope you come back and we’re going to offer you a contract, but go find out what’s best for you. Figure out what out there really makes you tick and what you want.”

Even if McCaw finds a situation that intrigues him, the Warriors will likely match it. But still, going through that process and seeing what’s out there can be crucial for a young player.

Improvement on the horizon

Many people pegged the 2017-18 as a breakout year for McCaw. After a scintillating performance during Summer League, McCaw seemed poised to take on a big role with the team, and take his game to the next level.

That didn’t really happen. He struggled to score, shooting just 40.9% from the field, and 23.8% from beyond the arc. His per game averages of 4.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists were nearly identical to his rookie marks. At one point he even sent himself to the G League.

Still, there are a lot of reasons for the team to be enthusiastic about McCaw going forward. The stellar playmaking skills that he displayed during Summer League didn’t magically disappear; that’s part of his game, and will show up at the NBA level as he grows more comfortable. And while he struggled defensively for much of the season, he also has tremendous potential on that end of the floor, and the ability to guard three positions.

And he’s still just 22-years old, having played only two seasons. He’s not far from being a really, really good sixth man; an improved jumper, some defensive discipline, or a little extra confidence and comfort could all take his game to the next level.

And he’s healthy!

As disappointing as McCaw’s play was (at times) during the year, the season has to feel like a success. When McCaw was stretchered off the court in a late March game, while reportedly telling trainers that his legs were numb, many feared the worst.

It seemed plausible that McCaw would never play again; it even was possible that he wouldn’t ever walk again.

Instead, he was able to return two months later, in the NBA Finals, and appears to have no lingering health issues going forward. So all in all, the year really was a win.

Ultimately, McCaw will almost surely be back in Warriors colors next year. The team can match any contract offer he receives, and they seem inclined to. And, in an offseason where the league’s money is tight, it seems highly unlikely that any team will throw enough money at a career 4.0 points per game player to make Golden State reconsider.

And once back in the Bay, it seems likely that we’ll see some growth and improvement from McCaw, who could be in for a very big year.

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