McGruder, 32, is 6-foot 4 and went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2013 and originally joined the Warriors for the 2014 Summer League. The journeyman then went on to play for the Heat in the 2015 Summer League and spent that season with the G-League affiliate Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he averaged 15.8 points en route to helping the team win a championship.
This then led to McGruder getting signed and making his NBA debut with the Heat the following 2016-17 season as an undrafted free agent. McGruder had an impressive rookie campaign, as he had to work hard to even make the roster. He actually ended up starting 65 games, which at the time was the fifth-most for a rookie in franchise history.
Throughout his career, McGruder has played seven seasons, appearing in 317 games as a member of the Heat, Clippers, and Pistons, averaging 5.8 points (42% FG, 36% 3P), 2.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 19.4 minutes of playing time.
To note, McGruder missed the final nine games of the 2022-23 season with the Pistons due to a foot injury. Thereupon, this offseason, the Pistons renounced his free-agent exception rights, so McGruder remained a free agent all summer. The Warriors, who have been taking their time exploring options for the final roster spots, may look to utilize McGruder, the 3-and-D archetype wing player, this upcoming season.
When McGruder meets his potential teammates for training camp with the Warriors, there may be some reconciliation needed.
As some might remember an incident that unfolded between the Warriors and Pistons back in January of 2021, where after a 27-point loss, the cameras showed McGruder heading toward the Warriors’ locker room. This situation then led to Warriors players Klay Thompson and Draymond Green both sounding off against McGruder postgame.
It’s safe to say words were not minced, as Thompson, who was still recovering from an Achilles injury, joined the Warriors’ broadcast team and slandered McGruder.
“This dude might be out of the league soon, he’s probably mad about that, who knows?” Thompson said at the time. “He’s over here trying to start something, like he’s a good player or something. It’s like bro get out of here, you might be … OK, sorry we’re done.”
Thompson wasn’t the only one who had a few choice words directed toward McGruder, who played only six minutes in the game but scored an efficient eight points. Green, who scored four points in 28 minutes, added to the verbal assault.
“When the (expletive) did Rodney McGruder become the tough guy?” Green asked. “Get the (expletive) out of here, (expletive) tough guy Rodney, Rodney … But I know no one scared of no Rodney McGruder, like are you kidding me?”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he was not sure what happened regarding McGruder coming to the Warriors’ tunnel postgame. That is to say, it was later revealed that McGruder went to confront ex-Warriors player Juan Toscano-Anderson, who did not play but exchanged words with Pistons player Wayne Ellington earlier in the first half.
Ellington, who was also teammates with McGruder on the Heat, defended McGruder after the game.
“He is one of the most hardworking, humble, down-to-earth guys that there is in this league,” Ellington said. “So for someone to attack him like that, I think it’s very unfair. Rod has never ever tried to portray or act like a tough guy ever in this league.”
He went on to confirm that McGruder was coming to his defense as a teammate and brother after verbal words were spoken toward Ellington by the opposing team during the game.
Ellington had redirected the criticism of McGruder toward Green.
“That’s what men do, we talk to each other eye to eye and face to face,” Ellington said. “So for Draymond to sit up there and talk all that crazy stuff behind the microphone, I think that’s the fake tough guy stuff to be honest with you.”
Now, after McGruder has signed this training camp deal with the Warriors, he will be eye to eye and face to face with potential teammates Thompson and Green.