Never in the eight years since Joe Lacob and Peter Guber took ownership of the Warriors have they sacrificed a chance at excellence to save a dollar. They’ve accepted that the price of winning can be steep.
If they are convinced they are receiving long-term value, they open the checkbook.
Otherwise, they move on.
Which brings us to the curious case of Patrick McCaw. Estranged from the Warriors this season by choice, he now has before him a two-year, non-guaranteed contract offered by the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers that would pay him $6 million over two seasons. Once he signs it, and he will, the Warriors have two days to match.
That’s highly unlikely, according to one league source who insists the Warriors still would like McCaw on their roster.
They shouldn’t match, according to a second source.
By choosing the Cleveland offer over the most attractive offer presented by Golden State -- two years at $5.2 million, according to league sources -- McCaw is shouting that he’d rather be a Cavalier than a Warrior.
The Warriors could choose to match the offer sheet, but it would cost them more than $14 million for this season alone. With the impending free agency of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, McCaw would be even more expensive next year.
If ownership truly believes McCaw is worth that in salary ($3 million) and luxury tax payments ($11.25 million) this season, Lacob would authorize general manager Bob Myers to match the Cavs' offer. Again, let’s be clear: Lacob is the team’s CEO, and he will overspend if he trusts the investment.
[RELATED: McCaw signing offer sheet with Cavs is a lesson on leverage]
The Warriors valued McCaw enough to make two attempts to bring him back, first the qualifying offer of $1.7 million and then with the aforementioned two-year deal. McCaw rejected both. To say the front office was disappointed is an understatement. To say a number of his teammates were perplexed, even annoyed, is accurate.
Making a third offer, fattened up to match the Cleveland deal, is highly unlikely.
“That would be unwise, and the Warriors are beyond the days of making unwise decisions,” said a league source.
McCaw showed promise as a rookie two years ago, but he regressed last season. He might become a good NBA player, but there is scant evidence in his favor.
Meanwhile, the Warriors are struggling to find their “A” game. They are awaiting the presence of DeMarcus Cousins. They are keeping a roster spot open, likely for a veteran big man to bolster the bench behind Cousins. They like new addition Alfonzo McKinnie, whose size allows him to play both forward positions, whereas McCaw is more guard than small forward.
“He really wants to play point guard,” one source said of McCaw.
That would explain McCaw’s desire for unrestricted free agency -- said to be his real goal -– and his reluctance to return to the Warriors. Stephen Curry not only is a point guard but also the franchise centerpiece.
As far as the possibility of a sign-and-trade, that’s not allowed without McCaw’s consent and not at all to the Cavaliers until next year, per the current collective bargaining agreement.
When the front office considers all the factors, from its checkbook to the coaching staff and those in the locker room that tried to help develop McCaw, there is strong reason to believe he has played his last game as a Warrior.
All signs indicate the price, in this instance, is too high for a player the Warriors don’t know as well as they thought they did.