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Cavaliers’ handling of former Rebel McCaw broke no rules, NBA finds


Morry Gash / AP

In this Jan. 12, 2018 file photo, Golden State Warriors’ Patrick McCaw dribbles during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee. McCaw is practicing with the Cavaliers, who signed him to a two-year, $6 million offer sheet last week. McCaw officially joined the Cavaliers’ roster on Monday, Dec. 31 after Golden State decided not to match Cleveland’s offer.

The Cleveland Cavaliers did not commit any rules violations with their recent signing and subsequent release of restricted free agent Patrick McCaw, the NBA announced Monday.

The league opened an investigation last week at the behest of the Golden State Warriors, who had held McCaw’s rights, and said it found no evidence of wrongdoing after interviews with officials from both teams and McCaw’s representation. Penalties in such cases, at their most extreme, can include fines as high as $6 million or the loss of draft picks.

“Based on the specific facts and circumstances of this matter, the NBA found that there was no violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, including the anti-circumvention rules,” the league said in a statement.

McCaw, a former UNLV player, cleared waivers last week after Cleveland released him and signed a contract for the rest of the season with the Toronto Raptors.

A contract impasse with the Warriors had kept McCaw on the sidelines this season until Dec. 28, when he signed a two-year, $6 million offer sheet from Cleveland that was fully unguaranteed. The Warriors did not match the offer, and McCaw joined the Cavaliers. He played sparingly in three games before they waived him Jan. 7 — right before the league’s annual deadline that would have made his $3 million salary for this season guaranteed.

Signing a player to a nonguaranteed offer sheet is not against league rules, nor is waiving him shortly thereafter. But because McCaw lasted only a week in Cleveland before the Cavaliers released him, some around the league had suggested that the signing was not grounded in true interest on Cleveland’s part but was rather designed purely to help McCaw extricate himself from the Warriors and become an unrestricted free agent.

The league could elect in future labor negotiations with the NBA Players Association to seek changes to the current rules that allowed the Cavaliers’ offer to be fully unguaranteed.

After clearing waivers and re-entering free agency, this time with the freedom to sign with any team without Golden State having the opportunity to match the offer, McCaw signed a one-year minimum contract with the Raptors that will pay him nearly $780,000 for the rest of the season. McCaw, a 23-year-old guard, earned just $323,529 for his short stint with the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers and Warriors declined to comment Monday. McCaw’s agent, Bill Duffy, also declined to comment.

The Warriors chose not to match Cleveland’s original offer sheet because retaining McCaw beyond last Monday’s contract guarantee date would have resulted in a luxury-tax hit of $11.3 million.

McCaw was a member of Golden State’s past two championship teams but missed most of the 2018 playoffs after he suffered a serious bone bruise in his back from a nasty fall in a late March game at Sacramento. Selected No. 38 overall out of Nevada-Las Vegas in the 2016 draft, McCaw turned down a two-year, $5.2 million offer from the Warriors before this season began in which the second season was not guaranteed.

He has not played in either of Toronto’s two games since he signed Jan. 10.