Up Next

NBA

Warriors’ Patrick McCaw holds out hope to return during playoffs

The combo guard who has been out with spine injury is making progress and will be evaluated next month

With Stephen Curry finally back on the court, the Golden State Warriors’ injury report has just one name on it. Patrick McCaw is out with a lumbar spine contusion.

As nightmarish and painful as that scary fall against Sacramento was for McCaw, he hasn’t given up on getting back into a Warriors uniform before the playoffs end.

“That is a goal, definitely. I definitely want to be back this season. That is my main goal,” McCaw said.

The slender, 6-foot-7, 185-pound combo guard fell to the floor after being accidentally undercut by Kings veteran forward Vince Carter during a layup attempt late in the third quarter of a March 31 game. McCaw writhed in pain on the Golden 1 Center floor and was taken off on a stretcher. Carter was emotional afterward, and players on both teams prayed for McCaw.

Don’t expect McCaw to go on YouTube looking for a replay.

“I haven’t seen the video,” McCaw said. “I don’t really care to see it. I remember it pretty vividly. I was there. I haven’t taken the time to go back to just watch.”

McCaw was evaluated at the University of California, Davis hospital. Results from preliminary X-rays, a CT scan and MRI exam were all clear. There was no structural damage or neural disruption for the former UNLV star, who was diagnosed with a lumbosacral bone bruise.

McCaw said the UC Davis doctor told him he would make a full recovery and was lucky that he didn’t break his tailbone or become paralyzed by a broken spine. A groggy McCaw said he found “happiness in his heart” with the news. He also said having his parents, girlfriend and Warriors head performance therapist Chelsea Lane by his side meant the world to him.

“My support system, everyone surrounding me, my mom, my dad, my sisters, my girlfriend, my friends, just the entire team and staff of the Warriors have been keeping me in high spirits,” McCaw said. “Everything is going to be all right. Thinking back to what happened, everything could have been so much worse for me. I have nothing but optimism about what is going to happen.

“I’m excited about my rehab and me coming back and playing the game that I love. Everybody has been helping me stay levelheaded and keep working hard.”

An apologetic Carter told The Undefeated last month: “I was just very, very, very happy that he recovered and he was able to walk up out of the hospital. Of course, he’s going to have some pain and stuff. But I was planning on, once we got back into the flow of things, I was going to really just talk to him, just have a conversation with him. I’ve read his comments. It made me feel better, obviously. But there is nothing like me reaching out to him, which I will do.”

McCaw said he doesn’t hold any ill will.

“He hasn’t reached out to me, and that’s fine because I know personally that he really didn’t mean for that to happen,” McCaw said. “There are no hard feelings against him or the incident. It doesn’t change my mind against him. I just know it wasn’t personal. He didn’t try to do it. The whole incident, I just try to forget it all.”

The Warriors announced on May 4 that McCaw is making steady functional progress and has been cleared to start modified on-court shooting and running drills. The Warriors’ training staff will work with him to build his overall strength and conditioning. McCaw will be evaluated in a month, which could be in the midst of the NBA Finals.

McCaw averaged 4 points on 43.3 percent shooting from the field, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists and made 20 starts as a rookie for the Warriors last season. The St. Louis native was in the playing rotation as the team won the 2017 NBA championship. McCaw averaged 4 points on 40.9 percent shooting from the field, 1.4 assists and 1.4 rebounds this season and spent some time with G League Santa Cruz.

“I just started rehab a couple weeks ago,” McCaw said. “I started in the pool, walking on the treadmill and getting my movement back. [Last] week I started in the weight room trying to get my body back right.”

Whether or not McCaw plays again this season, the injury has put life in a different perspective for the 22-year-old.

“It was definitely a life-changing moment for me,” McCaw said. “It is so much bigger than basketball to say that I can stand on my own two feet again and be able to walk again. It made everything so much bigger than what I had been seeing it for. You really take so much for granted being young and thinking you’ll be able to get it back if you make a mistake.

“Now, I look at things just wide-eyed. Every day I wake up I’m blessed to be there. Blessed to move around. Blessed to be part of the NBA with such a great family that loves me so much. It’s just a special feeling to know that nothing serious happened to me. Every day I thank God for blessing me and giving me the life that he has and protecting me from that incident.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for The Undefeated. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.