Patrick McCaw signing offer sheet with Cavaliers is a lesson on leverage

mccawusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Patrick McCaw signing offer sheet with Cavaliers is a lesson on leverage

Not that the Golden State Warriors had any plans for Patrick McCaw after a summer and fall of non-contact, but the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers offered him a two-year, $6 million deal speaks to a basic truth about life in general and sports in particular.
 
There is nothing more dismal than imagining leverage where it does not exist.
 
McCaw and the Warriors ended their briefly incandescent but eventually frigid relationship well before the Cavs came on board, and even the delusional wing of the party which kept thinking McCaw could come back to be of service had stopped bringing up his name.

Yes, the Warriors can still technically match the Cavs' offer sheet. But you're kidding yourself if you think McCaw will suit up again for Golden State.
 
In short, the Warriors moved on to other solutions to their issues, and so did McCaw. The McCaw of two years ago, the energy-providing backup who could make the times when Stephen Curry wasn’t playing more bearable, had disappeared, first through injury and then through a deterioration of confidence. He still imagined himself an important part of the dynamo while the Warriors’ front office had regarded him as at best the ninth-best player on a team that already had Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and a two-headed post position to go with their four marquee players.
 
An easy disconnect, one that happens all the time at merely normal NBA outposts. What made it weird, though, was that it came with such speed. McCaw believed himself as integral to the process and dug in his sneakers. More to the point, he waited for them to come to him, and they waited for him to come to them.
 
That never ends well.
 
For McCaw, Cleveland represents a new version of what he had when he got to Golden State – a chance to be seen by the rest of the league. His belief that he had shown enough turned out to be just one more example of someone imagining leverage that didn’t exist at his roster position and paycheck. And the Warriors, even these Warriors who look incomplete and a bit befuddled, are still first among equals in a more competitive, but still stratified league.
 
In short, neither side got what it wanted, and both sides got what they deserved – a grim but only minimally contentious divorce without the messy issue of community property.
 
Hey, there are worse ways to go.

Anthony Davis' future surpasses Kevin Durant's as NBA's biggest thing

durantdavisusatsi.png
USATSI

Anthony Davis' future surpasses Kevin Durant's as NBA's biggest thing

 

The National Basketball Association has been slowly transitioning to a summer league over the past several seasons, given that the summer is when the player movement market transitions from discourse and rumor to money-burning fact.
 
Indeed, the dog days of December are being backed-and-filled with some discussion of what ails the Golden State Warriors, but far more where Anthony Davis’ next port of call will be.
 
Davis, the main reason the New Orleans Pelicans exist, had his name floated as the latest potential Los Angeles Laker last week, with Dave McMenamin of ESPN as the conduit by which the story lapped at LeBron James’ feet, thereby giving it chat show credence. It has since become the new topic du jour, supplanting Kevin Durant’s free agency and before that Kawhi Leonard’s post-Canadian future as the great debating points of a season that has not yet taken debating shape itself.
 
This isn’t surprising, given that Durant hasn’t played coy about his own situation in weeks now, and an untended flame tends to die out on his own. The great argument with Draymond Green seemed to sour Durant’s taste for the topic even though it ran very high for about two weeks, but it’s as if Durant’s future has been left to simmer while Davis’ is the new one on the boil.
 
It leads us to believe that the real joy in the NBA is in watching us all playing junior general manager, as though it really is the daily fantasy game that we are constantly told is the future of sports consumption in America. It is the jock world’s version of radio star Scoop Nisker’s old line, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own,” as it were.
 
That may be it, though the length of the NBA season also benefits this side market because there really are more games than people actually want to eat. Not every game can be indicative of future trends or team morbidity rates, and our hurry to get to the offseason speaks to that. Well, that and the fact that the Warriors even in current baffling state are still considered prohibitive favorites to win their third consecutive championship because, well, they’re the Warriors.
 
Maybe if Golden State was blowing through the NBA like it did in the earlier parts of the championship era rather than establishing itself as merely first among equals, there’d be more bitching about how they ruined basketball rather than how Anthony Davis could help ruin basketball in a different way. After all, nature abhors a vacuum, and if the Warriors aren’t interesting in the same way, there are always 29 other teams to chew on – or, more to the point, there is the Lakers.

[RELATED: Why you shouldn't panic about Draymond Green]
 
Los Angeles has been a poor team for more than half a decade now, and no reclamation project has invigorated the debate army quite like it. The theory has always been that the league is always better when the Lakers are good, even though the league has never been better or more lucrative than it has been in the past five years and the Lakers have barely been a part of it.
 
Put another way, you don’t hear any Anthony Davis stories that don’t have the Lakers in the lead. Even Golden State’s own curiosity about Davis, which is probably moot given its own pending decisions on Durant, Green and Klay Thompson, is judged to be irrelevant. The Warriors are being ceded the season, but they had their big offseason when they got Durant, and then doubled down with DeMarcus Cousins. They had their turn.
 
Now it is Anthony Davis’, and until the February trade deadline he will remain so. If he does get moved despite New Orleans’ insistence that he will not, the league changes. If he doesn’t, Durant will overtake him for the offseason chat league crown, because in the new NBA, the summer is when everything happens. All the 1,300 games are merely prelude to what everyone really wants.
 
The smell of burning money and the cheer of rampant speculation. Without it, we are stuck in the world of a reality we can’t tailor to our own prejudices, and who in their right mind wants that?

Remembering Warren Wells, a prototypical Raider from their best past

Remembering Warren Wells, a prototypical Raider from their best past

Two years ago, Warren Wells flew from his home in Beaumont, Texas, to light the Al Davis memorial torch at Oakland Coliseum. He’d been in uncertain health for some time, so the trip had particular significance both for him and for those who remember the flame from his own brief but prescient career as an Oakland Raider.

Wells, who died this week after a long battle with congestive heart failure at age 76, was one of the first of the great deep-threat receivers in pro football history, and in being joined with the throw-often, throw-deep-and-damn-the-torpedoes Raiders of the late pre-merger 1960s, he found his truest athletic calling. He was the player who opened the field for all of the Raiders’ other big-play offensive schemes, and his career, short though it was, still is remembered with great affection by remaining old-time Raiders fans.

In four years with Oakland, from 1967 to 1970, after one year with the Detroit Lions and two years serving in Vietnam, Wells averaged 23.3 yards per catch, which was the best in NFL history until the league changed the guidelines and imposed a 200-reception minimum (he finished with 158), and he led the AFL twice in touchdown receptions. He played in Super Bowl II against the Green Bay Packers, and was named to the first NFL-AFL All-Pro team.

But at the zenith of his powers, Wells ran into legal and substance issues that afflicted a good portion of his post-football life. That included an arrest after the 1971 Pro Bowl for a probation violation from a 1969 conviction for attempted rape. one of several scrapes that induced Davis, who always had been more than merely lenient with talented players with checkered pasts, to release Wells after that season. Wells was jailed for 10 months in 1971, and after being released by the Raiders, he never played football again.

Wells' post-football career became increasingly difficult, including a period in which he was homeless, and he was victimized repeatedly, including by the substance abuse center Synanon, and his was among the cases in the first NFL settlement with former players for damage from football. In all, his own demons and those who sought him out combined to make the bulk of Wells' life a nightmare.

The brevity of Wells’ career doesn't do his football impact justice, and he might have had the same career trajectory as teammate Fred Biletnikoff, who was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. As it was, Wells' career took on the trappings of a cautionary tale, and he largely was forgotten by the time the team returned to Oakland after a 13-year hiatus in Los Angeles.

But such is the nature of history that greatness without both curiosity and video evidence often is forgotten. Wells is a classic what-if tale, an emergent star whose personal demons and predators overcame not just his life as a football player but as a man.