Patrick McCaw had put himself in NBA limbo.
He went into last summer restricted free agent with the Warriors having his rights (meaning they could match any offer). McCaw desperately wanted out of Golden State because he craved a larger role and wanted the ball in his hands, and he felt the Warriors were holding him back (Golden State is pretty set on the wing). While the Warriors had an offer on the table for McCaw, no other team stepped up with an offer sheet (he had regressed the previous season, no team was willing to pay him much more than the minimum, and the Warriors would have matched that).
Then a week ago along comes Cleveland with an offer sheet — two years, $6 million, none of it guaranteed. The Warriors, already over the tax and not really having a need for McCaw, let him walk. Then on Sunday, the Cavaliers waived McCaw, letting him go to become an unrestricted free agent.
That raised a lot of eyebrows around the league. Now the NBA league office will investigate, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.
The N.B.A. will formally review the Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent signing and near-immediate release of the restricted free agent Patrick McCaw for possible salary cap circumvention, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s stance….
Signing a player to a nonguaranteed offer sheet is technically not against league rules, nor is waiving him shortly thereafter. But because McCaw lasted only a week in Cleveland before the Cavaliers released him, some around the league have suggested that the move was designed more to help McCaw extricate himself from the Warriors than because of any true interest in the player on Cleveland’s part.
The Cavaliers, though, have expressed interest in re-signing McCaw to a cheaper contract if he clears waivers, according to reports.
Everyone I have spoken to around the league on this thinks the Cavaliers did McCaw and his agent a favor and that was the plan all along. McCaw wanted to be a free agent and the Cavaliers helped him get there, making an offer that was big enough the Warriors would not match, but always with the intention of letting him go to become a free agent. Even if the Cavaliers re-sign him, they made the first offer at a number the Warriors would not match, and now want him at a cheaper number.
Does any of this violate the letter of the law? Probably not. But the spirit if it…
That said, the restricted free agent game is so rigged in favor of the teams I don’t feel bad for the Warriors.