Patrick McCaw had a hard time explaining why he didn’t want to go back to the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors and instead chose to play for the Cavaliers, whose 8-29 record is the worst in the league.
“That’s a tough question. I loved playing in Golden State,” McCaw told reporters at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence Monday. “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.”
After suffering a severe spinal injury in 2017-18 that sidelined him for the last two weeks of the regular season and all but six games of the playoffs, McCaw, 23, did not report to training camp with the Warriors and has not played this season.
On Friday, the 6-foot-7 wing signed a two-year, non-guaranteed $6 million offer sheet with the Cavs. The Warriors had until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to match, but declined to retain the player once considered the heir apparent to Andre Iguodala and a key piece in their youth movement.
According to Yahoo Sports, it would have cost the Warriors $3 million in salary and another $11.25 million in luxury tax to bring back McCaw.
“I took a different approach to this whole situation. I was uncertain if I would get an offer sheet or anything,” McCaw said. “But [staying] positive in myself and knowing something would come. I can’t really look back on the last two months and how I handled the whole situation, I can only continue to focus on now and the future. That’s all I’m waiting for.
“When my opportunity presents itself, I will be ready and just happy to be in Cleveland.”
That opportunity will come quickly. With the Cavs ravaged by injuries, coach Larry Drew said McCaw will play in Wednesday’s home game against the Heat.
Drew may have a better handle on why McCaw wanted to leave the Warriors, who have beaten the Cavs in three of the past four NBA Finals, than McCaw himself.
“I’m sure he and his agent looked at that situation and made a professional decision,” Drew said. “I guess he felt coming here he had more of an opportunity to play, and a chance to really prove himself and prove his worth. When he became available, we jumped on it.
“He wants to show people what he’s capable of. To turn down a place where you’ve had team success, it just tells me that this kid really wants to get into a situation where he can show who he is. I totally understand that. I’m really surprised that he’s been out this long. I think he’s a company guy. I think he’s about team, and certainly he’s about winning.”
McCaw was selected 38th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016 out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, then traded to the Warriors on draft night, with Golden State paying $2.4 million for his rights. At Summer League, then-Warriors consultant Jerry West said, “People are going to be sorry they didn’t draft him.”
In two seasons with the Warriors, McCaw played in 128 games (starting 30) and averaged 4.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.9 minutes, shooting .421 from the field and .296 from 3-point range.
“He’s a kid that I’ve always loved his game, just form, his length and his speed. Defensively he’s long, gets his hands on a lot of balls,” Drew said. McCaw totaled 15 points against the Cavs in the last two Finals, 11 in 2017.
Drew said he was pleasantly surprised with what he saw from McCaw in his first practice.
“He actually got up and down the floor pretty good today,” Drew said. “We’re not going to try and cram him with a bunch of things and not going to try to run him in the ground. We’re going to get him gradually acclimated to what we do.”
While away from the game, McCaw said he spent most of his time at home shooting and working out with his father. Although he called that “an everyday grind,” he said he believes his gamble paid off.
“I feel great. I bet on myself and stayed positive,” McCaw said. “A lot of guys in my position being 22 or 23 years old, probably would never take that chance because they don’t know what the outcome could possibly be. I know I had injuries and things like that last season and I’ve just been continuing to work and get better and constantly make strides within myself. That’s how I’ve always been. Just focusing on myself, getting better and telling myself I can be great at this game.”
Center Tristan Thompson (left foot sprain) and guard Rodney Hood (sore left Achilles) practiced after missing the last 10 and four games, respectively. Asked who was closer to playing, Drew said they are “neck and neck.”
“We really wanted to put them in a full practice, just to see how they will fare the following day,” Drew said. “If both guys come out of this thing with flying colors, they both may be in position to play on Wednesday.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.