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The Warriors should’ve let Patrick McCaw go months ago

A dive into one of the messiest contract situations in recent memory.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Patrick McCaw situation cannot get more bizarre. After signing him to a two-year, six-million-dollar unguaranteed contract that the Warriors didn’t dare to match, the Cleveland Cavaliers released him, making him an unrestricted free agent. The NBA is now looking into the situation at the behest of the Warriors.

There’s a lot at play here. McCaw, once a promising young player, struggled throughout his sophomore year and suffered a terrifying injury near the end of it. McCaw turned down a two-year five-million-dollar partially-guaranteed offer from the Warriors last summer, and refused to report to camp by signing a qualifying offer. He was the only restricted free agent to hold out. And the Warriors are fine without him: his replacement on the team, Alfonzo McKinnie, is thoroughly outplaying him in the same role this year.

Many of the Warriors’ players were worried about McCaw, who didn’t really communicate with the team. But the Warriors held onto his rights, hoping for a future with him on the team.

The Cavaliers’ contract with McCaw, in retrospect, was bogus. They probably got into this mess to try to sign McCaw again, but to a more reasonable contract. McCaw finally can sign anywhere he desires. It’s clear that above everything else, McCaw did not want to return to the Warriors.

There are a lot of unfair things about the situation. Restricted free agency hurts players who might earn more money or choose a different team in a more competitive market. With McKinnie filling in for McCaw nicely, the Warriors should’ve rescinded the qualifying offer to McCaw months ago. He didn’t want to return and even if he did, he wouldn’t really help the team.

But what the Cavaliers did is also shady. If McCaw signed the contract with a prior agreement that he would be cut, the Cavaliers could lose a first round pick, which could cost them a prospect like Zion Williamson. If McCaw had no idea he was to be cut, it’s quite a cold use of the unguaranteed contract. It’s cases like these that make the unguaranteed contract unfair towards fringe players.

Ultimately, I just hope McCaw finds a team good for him and gets back to playing basketball. I can’t imagine what’s going on in his mind, but I do think he has a small chance of becoming a good NBA player. Best wishes to his future.

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