For the entire season and preseason, the Golden State Warriors have held a locker open for Patrick McCaw.
The 23-year old, who returned from a frightening back injury to play minutes in last year’s NBA playoffs against the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers, failed to sign a $1.64 million qualifying offer with Golden State before training camp began. The Warriors later presented him with a two-year, $5.2 million offer on Oct. 1, which he declined.
On Friday morning, multiple reports — starting with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN — stated that McCaw, who missed two months last season with a lumbar spine contusion, had signed an offer sheet with the Cavaliers for a nonguaranteed contract for two years and $6 million.
Golden State has until Jan. 7 to decide whether or not to match the offer, but despite having once been very optimistic about bringing back the lengthy 6-foot-7 shooting guard, the Warriors have found other players to not only fill his minutes, but excel in doing so.
Alfonzo McKinnie, 26, burst onto the scene early this season, going from undrafted free agent to a stint in Luxembourg to a Mexican 3-on-3 league to the G League and finally settling in with the Warriors to average 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per night.
Jonas Jerebko has become somewhat of a fan favorite coming off the bench, playing in all 46 games and averaging 7.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per night while shooting 36.8 percent from 3-point range.
As a rookie with the Warriors in 2016-17, McCaw, a second-round pick in 2016 by the Milwaukee Bucks, played in 71 games, shot 33.3 percent from three and 43.3 percent from the field, averaged 1.4 rebounds and 4.0 points per game.
Before being undercut by Vince Carter during a drive to the basket on March 31 in Sacramento, McCaw averaged 1.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 4.0 points per game in 57 games, playing 16.9 minutes.
After he returned from his injury to play against the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals and the Cavaliers in the Finals, McCaw held out, and the Warriors were happy to let him find his value on the open market. Before training camp, they extended their first offer sheet, then upped that significantly by adding a year and more money, without any other competing offer sheets. McCaw still declined.
Since McCaw is a restricted free agent, the Warriors could conceivably match the offer from Cleveland, but aside from players already filling his role, there’s the roster spot consideration. Golden State general manager Bob Myers has openly stated that the team wants to keep the 15th roster spot to have flexibility when it comes to buyout-market options or other player-addition avenues. That’s unlikely to change.