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NBA 2018-19: Why Patrick McCaw is a mysterious fit for the Toronto Raptors

Jason Mills
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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Patrick McCaw, an unsigned restricted free agent for the Golden State Warriors just before the New Year found himself a free agent on Thursday, January 10th, 2019. Free to sign for the remainder of the season with the Toronto Raptors. Its how he was able to flip his restricted free agent status to an unrestricted free agent that will bring scrutiny from the NBA. 

"The NBA will review the Cleveland Cavaliers' signing and release of forward Patrick McCaw at the request of the Golden State Warriors, according to The New York Times' Marc Stein."

Under the terms of the CBA, between the league and the players, a 2nd round draft pick like McCaw was in 2016, becomes a restricted free agent after his second year. The Golden State Warriors with a huge luxury tax bill to pay and concerns about contract negotiations with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant coming this summer did not make an overwhelming commitment to negotiate with McCaw in the summer of 2018.

They did provide a qualifying $1.71 million dollar offer that McCaw allowed to expire and he declined the Warriors subsequent 2 years $5.2 million dollar offer.  

McCaw presumably wanted to leave Golden State for a place where he could get a bigger role and perhaps better pay. Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers offering McCaw a non-guaranteed 2 years $6 million dollar offer guaranteed if he remained on the roster past January 7th, 2019. 

The Warriors had 48 hours to match the offer which would have cost them $11 million dollars in luxury taxes under the salary cap rules. The Warriors decided to let McCaw go. However, after just three games in a Cavaliers uniform, McCaw found himself an unrestricted free agent waived by the Cavaliers.  

The Cavaliers could lose at the very least their 1st round pick this season in a year in which they are forced to rebuild because of the defection of LeBron James via free agency in the summer. If Kolby Altman signed and released McCaw as a revenge tactic for losing three of the last four NBA titles to Golden State he just set his franchise’s rebuilding phase back dramatically. 

If one uses the Joe Smith contract saga in the early 2000s with Minnesota as an example the Timberwolves lost their next 5 consecutive 1st round picks, the owner Glen Taylor was suspended, the series of 1-year deals Joe Smith signed were voided (eliminating the Timberwolves desire to obtain Smith's Bird Rights under the CBA) and the team was fined $3.5 million dollars. 

Kolby Altman the Cavaliers general manager just got burned by a player option in the LeBron James contract. It allowed the mega superstar to opt out of his contract in Cleveland this past summer. Now, Altman has now provided players who are potential restricted free agents a viable loophole in the CBA to become unrestricted free agents.


Essentially restricted free agents need only sign a non-guaranteed contract with a new team forcing the team holding their rights to match or not match the offer. The player then needs to get waived or released by the new team making 2nd-year players free agents.

This tactic would apply to former 1st round draftees after their 4-year rookie deal expires. This tactic does, of course, require the signing team to cooperate and release the player, which is why Cleveland's motives are in question with McCaw. The Cavaliers can use players and all the help they can get so why steal talent from another team if you didn't want or need it?

If the NBA does not move to sanction Cleveland and then tighten this loophole in the CBA in 2024, when the CBA is due for renegotiation general managers in the NBA will be under siege trying to keep their young players and manage their payroll under the cap rules.

 On Thursday, January 10th, 2019 the Toronto Raptors added free agent Patrick McCaw to their line up on a minimum veteran’s deal for the remainder of the year. If the Cavaliers sign and release of McCaw is a mystery so too is the Raptors signing McCaw and here’s why.

#1 Raptors could use a 3-point shooter but is that McCaw?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors
Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors take approximately 33 three-pointers per game. Currently, they are 23rd in the NBA in three-point shooting. Their field goal percentage is at 34.3%. Three-pointers are more than a 1/3 rd of the Raptors offense. They tend to either shoot the lights out or shoot themselves out of games.

 Kyle Lowry is shooting just 32% from behind the arc. C.J. Miles is getting less and less playing time and is a miserable 27% from the 3-point arc. Fred Vanvleet is shooting 36.7% from the three-point line but is 4-5% behind last years average. Pascal Siakam has expanded his game and gotten much better from three point range but only shoots at a 33% clip. 

Patrick McCaw comes to the Raptors with a career average of 29.5% from behind the arc. McCaw is not the answer in this area of need for the Raptors. Also, McCaw only averages 15.9 minutes and 3.9 points per game. With all due respect, while he brings championship experience from the Warriors, McCaw is not yet a game changer.

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