Willie Cauley-Stein Rumors

The Sacramento Kings introduced Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, their first-round draft choice, to the local media on Saturday. He was on a day-long, meet-and-greet Sacramento tour. “He’s somebody who can really help us improve our team,” said Kings executive Vlade Divac at the news conference introducing his new player. He said Cauley-Stein brings skills to help the team on both offense and defense. “He’s fast. I wouldn’t like to play against him,” said Divac, who was pretty quick for big man himself when he was in the NBA with the Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets.
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One day after he ignored the seemingly-endless threats from the DeMarcus Cousins’ camp and drafted a big man in Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein with the sixth pick who should fit quite nicely alongside his disgruntled big man if he suits up for the Kings next season, Divac made it clear that he’s not about to be bullied in his new role. “I just was tired last week, or days, of these rumors, and putting a lot of stuff on our back, making this even harder than it is,” Divac said in an interview with Sacramento radio station KHTK 1140 Friday morning. “I try to be who I am, and try to do my job best I can and try to do the best I can for the franchise. I’m not going to let somebody change my mind because they’re putting (threats in) the paper or putting the pressure on me. I’ll do the best I can to improve this team.”
Willie Cauley-Stein received a hero’s welcome from his newest fans upon arriving in Sacramento for the first time since being selected by the Kings in Thursday’s NBA Draft. The 21-year-old, seven-foot center, selected sixth overall out of Kentucky, was overwhelmed by over 100 Kings fans, who showed up to greet Cauley-Stein at Sacramento International Airport late Friday night. “I was not expecting this, this was amazing,” Cauley-Stein told News10. “[Kings fans] are as passionate as I’ve heard, so I’m hyped. I’m excited about it”
One league source said that there are “minor” concerns that the ankle injury Cauley-Stein suffered as a sophomore could require more surgery. But the more pressing issue for teams is gauging Cauley-Stein’s dedication to the sport. Calipari acknowledged that Cauley-Stein did not spend endless hours in the gym at Kentucky, but he said he had only coached three players who truly had: NBA standouts Brandon Knight, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Derrick Rose. “Anthony Davis wasn’t, like, a gym rat, and he’s OK,” Calipari said of the Pelicans’ All-Star forward. “So I think that’s been overblown, and it’s almost like you’re trying to pick something out that he’s not.”
He sounded irritated. He is a freakishly athletic and versatile rim protector, and Celtics fans — among many others — have long swooned over him. And over the past two months, he has worked to persuade NBA decision-makers that it is safe to feel the same way. “There’s certainly some concern about his level of focus, whether he’s too much of a free spirit,” one NBA executive said. “He’s a little bit different, and a lot of people have told us that his level of interest and commitment to basketball ebbs and flows.”
According to Synergy, on any shots taken at the rim (no post-ups), Cauley-Stein limited opponents to 34.8 percent shooting (16-of-46), which ranks in the 87th percentile among NCAA players who defended at least 40 such shots. Cauley-Stein blocked 13 of the 46 shots (28 percent), and his help defender blocked three additional shots. Cauley-Stein is more than a paint-clogging rim protector. He showcased his versatility by guarding smaller players on the perimeter, especially when opponents forced him to cover isolation plays.
The NBA is expected to invite at least 20 players to the draft Thursday in Brooklyn, with as many as three from national champion Duke, two from national runner-up Wisconsin and four representing 38-1 Kentucky, multiple sources with knowledge of the list said. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones will be in attendance, sources said. So, too, will Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, as well as Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker.
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Kentucky’s 7-foot junior defensive big man, Willie Cauley-Stein, worked out for the Knicks on Tuesday and a league source said it was one of his best workouts. He’s in the mix for the Knicks who have the No. 4 pick in the draft. At the Chicago combine, Cauley-Stein said of playing with Carmelo Anthony: “I think it would be a great fit. I think we could complement each other offensively and defensively.’’
Payne works specifically with Kentucky’s bigs and has helped advance Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle into the NBA. But he’s never compared those guys with former Kentucky point guard John Wall. “Very rarely do you find 7-1 guys with his size and length who can move the way he moves,’’ Payne said. “Not quite at his level, but he’s John Wall-ish at 7-1. That kind of speed and athleticism. When you have a kid like that, the potential is there, talent is there. It’s just getting it where it’s shown. “Willie can end up being an All-Star.”
After the Chicago combine in mid-May and before the draft lottery, Cauley-Stein, according to a source, met with the Knicks in New York — an indication of Jackson’s anxiousness. Cauley-Stein had mistakenly said at the combine it would be a pre-lottery workout. “Skillwise, the sky’s the limit on where I can take it,” Cauley-Stein said at the combine. “I’m athletic enough to do a lot of different things.’’
The New York Knicks have scheduled a workout with UCLA forward Kevon Looney for Thursday, league sources say. Looney’s workout is one of several scheduled this week for New York. The club is also scheduled to work out Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein. The date for Kaminsky’s workout is unknown. Cauley-Stein is expected to work out on Tuesday. New York will pick fourth in the NBA Draft on June 25.