The NBA has launched an investigation into the Cleveland Cavaliers' signing and near-immediate release of Patrick McCaw.
The guard is now an unrestricted free agent following a waiver by the Cavs on Monday, something which came as quite the surprise given the circumstances.
McCaw signed a two-year, $6 million deal with last season's Eastern Conference champions as a restricted free agent. The Warriors opted not to match the non-guaranteed offer but the player has since been released, having appeared just three times for Larry Drew's side.
The NBA will launch a formal review into Cleveland’s signing and near-immediate release of restricted free agent Patrick McCaw at the request of Golden State, @NYTSports has learned— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 8, 2019
According to the New York Times' Marc Stein, the Warriors requested that the NBA investigate the matter; the league has since obliged.
The Warriors clearly feel that the Cavs took advantage of restricted free agency rules by signing the player with the intention to release him. They would have retained his rights otherwise.
McCaw, though, had made it clear that he didn't want to remain with the defending champs.
"I loved playing in Golden State," he said after accepting the Cavs' offer. "My teammates, the coaches, it was nothing really ... nothing stands out to me to say I didn’t want to go back. Think it was just a personal thing where I was just like, I think it was time for me to move on for a new opportunity within myself. Nothing against Golden State, 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."
Steve Kerr said he wasn’t suspicious of the McCaw deal in Cleveland, but did call it “strange.” Kerr: “I’m not sure there has been a totally non-guaranteed offer sheet before.” pic.twitter.com/rAXIIVSdl0— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 9, 2019
What This Means
It does appear that the Cavs never intended to keep the player and it could be that they simply wanted to help him become an unrestricted free agent. Their reasons are still unknown, hence the investigation. But they could simply argue that the Warriors could have matched their offer if they really wanted to keep McCaw.
Matching the offer sheet would have cost the defending champions $11 million in luxury tax penalties, but it was still an option. They could have also matched it and looked to trade before his contract became guaranteed.
The signing and subsequent release could prompt the NBA to amend free agency stipulations. Either way, it will be interesting to see what comes out of this.