Warriors

Patrick McCaw rejecting Warriors' contract offer just boggles the mind

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USATSI

Patrick McCaw rejecting Warriors' contract offer just boggles the mind

In a steamy, cramped Warriors locker room noisy with exuberant shrieks and musty with a mixture of sweat and champagne spray, Patrick McCaw found a seat in a corner and dropped his head between his legs, burying his face in his hands beneath a towel.

Crying? Maybe. McCaw occasionally lifted his head to peek at the delirium, his eyes rolling in moisture.

Meanwhile, veteran big man David West held court in the center of the room, exulting, his booming baritone telling all willing how gloriously this felt and how much the Warriors had endured to win this NBA championship.

The Warriors had won it all, for the second consecutive season, and McCaw’s reaction in the wee hours of June 9 in Cleveland was interesting. There was plenty of raw emotion, to be sure, but its source was hard to discern.

Was it because this felt dreamy? McCaw had been in the NBA for two seasons, both ending in ultimate triumph.

Was it because he felt lucky? McCaw was 69 days removed from being strapped to a stretcher and taken by ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center, where he spent the night undergoing tests on his spine after a brutal spill at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Or was it something else altogether? Something deeper? Was McCaw mulling his future, and whether this might be the last time he’d wear a Warriors jersey?

Nearly four months later, it’s fair to revisit that moment because McCaw’s future is far more uncertain than might have been imagined from the outside.

Upon returning last May 26, after an eight-week absence, McCaw described it as “amazing” to be back on the court. He said he wanted to continue playing basketball. He said several times afterward that he wanted to be back with the Warriors. Said it again after emerging from the locker room at Quicken Loans Arena after Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

“I would love to be here,” McCaw told Bay Area News Group after the Warriors won Game 4 to clinch the back-to-back NBA title. “There’s no place I’d rather be. This is all I know.”

Less than three weeks later, the Warriors made a $1.71 million qualifying offer -- roughly $400,000 more than his 2017-18 salary -- in hopes of retaining McCaw. Rumors circulated over the summer that McCaw's reluctance to sign was indicative of him wanting more money or a multiyear contract.

The qualifying offer expired Monday night, so McCaw remains a restricted free agent. There is a chance he can return on another deal, but there's no denying this episode has left many people curious and frustrated and puzzled, including some of the Warriors, who have expressed support while hoping he returns.

The team has no choice but to carry on this season. The Warriors have carried on without Stephen Curry, without Kevin Durant, without Andre Iguodala, without coach Steve Kerr. None of those absences derailed them, and neither would the loss of McCaw.

The Warriors are forced to look at players in training camp -- rookie Jacob Evans III to name one -- as possible replacements. They can pluck someone off the free-agent market, where Jamal Crawford is waiting for a call.

McCaw has the potential to be at least a rotation player in the NBA. He possibly could develop beyond that and become a starter on a playoff team. He’s athletic and composed, with a high basketball intellect, as well as an instinctive feel for the game.

There’s no denying, however, that McCaw, after a solid rookie season, showed signs of performance regression in 2017-18. He had a crisis of confidence, which last February resulted in him requesting -- and receiving -- a two-game assignment to the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Before making that request, McCaw consulted with his father, Jeff McCaw, a basketball coach in the St. Louis area, and also with Kerr. Both were on board.

"I just asked if I could go down there and get some consistent run in, get up and down and get my conditioning right," McCaw said at the time. "Just play."

McCaw spent two games in Santa Cruz, returned to the Warriors and lasted one half before leaving with a fractured wrist that sidelined him for nearly five weeks. He healed, only to sustain the spine injury 12 days after he was cleared.

So there's no question McCaw had a trying season. It happens.

There's also no question that a trying season chips away at any player’s leverage. McCaw was in no position to make a power play -- if he truly wanted to return to the Warriors -- yet he made one anyway.

The tactics employed over the last three months, along with declining the qualifying offer, suggest McCaw is ready to move on from a team that wants him but doesn’t need him. Having a change of heart over the summer is the only way this makes sense.

But no one can know for certain until there is a resolution that might explain this risky and mystifying approach.

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

SAN FRANCISCO – When Andrew Wiggins came to the Warriors two weeks ago in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, it was as if he arrived with five unwanted tattoos scripted across his 6-foot-8 frame.

Doesn’t play defense.

Doesn’t shoot the 3-ball.

Doesn’t have a passion to be great.

Doesn’t love the game.

Doesn’t, repeating for emphasis, play defense.

Draymond Green, one of Wiggins’ new teammates, is on a quest to remove those invisible tats. Green fully believes they can fade into history, thereby reshaping the reputation attached to Wiggins over five-plus seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I think he can be an All-Defensive (team) player,” Green said after practice Wednesday. “That’s one of my goals for him, as the leader of this team, one of my things that I really want to push him on. He has all the tools. He has the athleticism. He reminds me a lot of Kevin (Durant), where they’re both long and lanky, but agile and can move. Very skinny guys, but not weak. From that aspect, it reminds me a lot of Kevin.

“Kevin’s a great defender. If (Wiggins) can continue to build on that, which I think he can ... on the defensive end, he can be really, really good.”

Wiggins’ defensive stats generally rate at the bottom levels, but there is reason to believe in appreciable improvement. His 2016-17 defensive rating of 107.9 was identical to that of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who entered the league one year earlier. Wiggins has twice over the past four seasons posted better individual defensive ratings than Trevor Ariza, who still maintains a reputation as a solid, if declining, defender.

Those numbers don’t vary much from those Wiggins posts in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus.

Such statistics, however, only hint at a player’s impact, rarely capturing the complete tale. There is plenty of video exposing Wiggins’ defensive ineffectiveness, and every one of them is with him as a part of a Timberwolves defense that annually ranked among the NBA’s worst.

Minnesota ranked no higher than 24th in defensive rating in any of the five full seasons with Wiggins on the roster. Only once over that span did the Timberwolves reach the playoffs.

“The thought wasn’t that he was a bad defender, anyway,” Green said, pointing out that the Warriors never sought to target him on that end. “He just hasn’t really been in a winning situation. And that’s when the defense gets the notoriety. He hasn’t been in that situation.”

Green also pushed back on the notion that Wiggins is low on desire, in the NBA perhaps for reasons other than love of the game.

“He wants to be great,” Green said. “He’s a guy who has been beat down a lot. Once again, people never talk about the situation guys are in. He wants to be great. He’s not demonstrative. He’s not very talkative. People would never say that or see it.

“But just talking to him, trying to get to know him and watching him work, he wants to be really good. I take that upon myself as a leader of this team, as one of the older guys on this team ... I want to help him do that any way I can.”

Not grasping, or even observing, reasons for the many critiques of Wiggins’ game, Draymond’s assessment is of a 23-year-old still building a career that has been no worse than respectable.

“That guy has averaged 20 points a game (actually 19.7) for three or four years, probably over his career,” Green said. “It’s not a f---ing bum we’re talking about. So, I’m not going to sit here and act like we found some diamond-in-the-rough that no one (knew about). He was the No. 1 pick. He’s averaged 20. He’s a player.”

[RELATED: Draymond jokes about wanting buyout from Warriors]

Green has spent the past few seasons providing guidance, offering constructive criticism while also giving his share of pep talks. Those things didn’t seem to move D’Angelo Russell, a tremendous scorer who plays to a beat only he can hear.

Wiggins is more malleable. And listening closely to Draymond’s vociferous defense of his new teammate, while also vowing full support, it’s clear that his new project is one in which he believes.

Warriors' Draymond Green jokes about wanting buyout to join playoff team

Warriors' Draymond Green jokes about wanting buyout to join playoff team

Breaking news: The Warriors are not going to the playoffs this season.

That means they have 27 games left and the offseason begins after the final horn sounds at around 9:30 p.m. PT on April 15.

So what does Draymond Green want to accomplish before the 2019-20 campaign comes to an end?

"A buyout," the three-time NBA champion told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "Go to a playoff team."

After a couple seconds, he smiled and said: "I'm just playing."

Draymond, whose four-year contract extension worth just under $100 million begins next season, has never missed the postseason since entering the league as the No. 35 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

It's going to be very strange for him to view the games from afar.

It's safe to assume that in addition to checking out the games on TV, Draymond probably will watch a lot of film on the top draft prospects as the Warriors most likely will have a top-five pick.

[RELATED: Why Kerr isn't entertaining idea of Klay playing this season]

But that's a conversation for another day. Green and his teammates have a job to do the next two months.

"Just trying to continue to get more rhythm with the guys that are here, continue to help them improve," Draymond said. "And really just work on my own game. Not often you get the opportunity to work on your game in a game setting.

"These games matter, but they don't matter. You're not playing for seeding or trying to preserve your legs for the playoffs. So you really get the chance to work on some things in game situations."

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