OAKLAND -- Warriors general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr continue to tell us they're keeping the door open for Patrick McCaw, and they might even mean it. For reasons of franchise image, it's the right way to frame it.
The stark reality is that even if the Warriors still want McCaw, now in Week 6 of his self-imposed absence, they must realize they no longer need him.
The Warriors own the rights to McCaw, and there is no reason to renounce because there is value in standing between McCaw any team interested in acquiring him.
But any urgency for him returning to the Warriors, if it existed at all, has faded.
McCaw's contact with his Warriors teammates has been minimal and without elaboration. He's says he's OK, not much more. They are perplexed. They don't dig too deep. They also can't understand why he is choosing this time, coming off an unimpressive season that left him without leverage, to stay away from the guys he worked with and conceivably the best situation in the NBA.
The Raiders, for example, understood why Khalil Mack didn't come to camp. His value was at its peak. They were with him and hoped he'd get paid.
This is much different. This defies negotiation logic. Whenever professional athletes are, um, puzzled by the tactics of a teammate, the relationship suffers.
If the relationship suffers, the next question becomes obvious: Is it worth repairing?
Would anybody be surprised if the Warriors, at least internally, already believe not?
The Warriors know what they have and who they are. In the two seasons before McCaw arrived as a second-round pick in 2016, they were the most successful team in the NBA. In the two seasons since his arrival, they were the best team in the NBA.
Which leads to the conclusion that McCaw is not an essential ingredient, and that the Warriors are likely to excel with him or without him.
Through eight games so far, they are 7-1. Their newest player, Alfonzo McKinnie, came to training camp and earned a roster spot that might not have been there had McCaw signed any of the contracts on the table. McKinnie now has the respect of his teammates and is playing so well he belongs on the team in his own right.
McKinnie is a keeper, yet not the ideal "replacement" for McCaw. While McCaw, at 6-foot-7, is a guard capable of playing small forward if absolutely necessary, McKinnie is a 6-8 small forward capable of sliding to power forward.
Put another way, the Warriors still would like to have someone with the skills to eventually move into roles now occupied by Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, the team's elder statesmen. Both are bound to miss games, and neither is likely to be with the team in two years. McCaw was being groomed for precisely that and flashed enough potential to inspire confidence he could fill that need.
But let's face it: If McCaw were to return tomorrow, he'd have a lot of explaining to do -- to the coaching staff, to his teammates and to the folks in the front office who paid $2.4 million for his draft rights.
If the Warriors decide to move on from McCaw -- mentally, it seems they already have -- they are properly equipped to thrive.
They can continue their search for the heirs apparent to Iguodala/Livingston, while utilizing the next few months to evaluate Jacob Evans III.