NBA rumors: Mavericks picking up team option on Willie Cauley-Stein

More on Willie Cauley-Stein Free Agency

Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein will decline his $2.28 million player option, as expected, and become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told HoopsHype. Cauley-Stein, 27, has shown the ability to switch on defensive pick-and-roll coverage and is at his best as a mobile roller on offense.
You have a player option for next season, but it appears you love it with the Warriors. Willie Cauley-Stein: I love the guys. I love the environment. I love the city. And I haven’t been in a city like this. It’s all new and energizing in a way. And there is a lot of opportunity to grow in life, period, not just hoops. And that all comes from just being around these group of guys and the group of coaches, the atmosphere around the city.
Willie Cauley-Stein: In Sacramento, they put a tag on me that I wasn’t invested or I didn’t care about hoops like that. A lot of stuff that this platform exited out. You can’t go to one coach or one trainer in that facility and say I don’t work hard. But that’s one thing that they used to say. ‘Oh, he don’t work hard enough, blah, blah, blah.’ Dude, you don’t know how hard I’m working. So, that was like the biggest thing for me was the clout that this team has. The championship. Got wins. But most importantly, they get it. They get it from a perspective that some teams can’t even get close to touching. … If I wasn’t invested in hoops, I would not come to the Warriors. The stage is too hard. Everybody’s looking at this. If I didn’t really like hoops, I’m going to go get a bag somewhere else. A little pretty bag.
Marcus Thompson: I’m told Willie Cauley-Stein coming to the Warriors. Was Damian Jones that bad in the Summer League debut? Does that mean no DeMarcus Cousins?
Sean Cunningham: The Kings were able to free up room for Cory Joseph by rescinding the qualifying offer for Willie Cauley-Stein, league source says. That makes him an unrestricted free agent, granting that wish to the formerly longest tenured Kings player and his agent.
Sam Amick: The Kings have extended a qualifying offer to Willie Cauley-Stein, a source with knowledge tells @TheAthletic , making him a restricted free agent.
Vlade Divac and his team aren’t going to respond to the report with anything of substance, nor should they. They have until June 29 to make a decision on the 25-year-old big and his $6.3 million qualifying offer, and according to a league source, they're still mulling their options. Cauley-Stein, like every other first-round pick to come into the league, is under team control for his first four seasons and can become a restricted free agent in Year 5. By failing to extend a qualifying offer, Divac would walk away from an asset without any hope of compensation.
He has positives, and the Kings haven’t given up hope completely on him. But there's also room for growth at the position, and the Kings are right to look at other options. It appears a divorce is inevitable, but the Kings need to do what is right for their franchise. If that means extending the qualifying offer and playing the wait-and-see game with Cauley-Stein, so be it.
The Kings could extend a qualifying offer to make Cauley-Stein a restricted free agent, but Cauley-Stein feels it’s time for both sides to move on, his agent told The Sacramento Bee on Saturday evening. “I really think Willie needs a fresh start,” said Roger Montgomery, a representative of Roc Nation Sports. “Based on how things have gone for him there in Sacramento, I just think it’s time for Willie to move on and we’d really like him to move on.”
The Kings issued a brief statement to The Bee on Saturday night in response to Montgomery’s remarks. “Willie is a great player who has shown he can fit our style of play,” the team said. “Beyond that, we can’t comment further.”
“We’ve kind of hoped that things would change over the years and Willie would get a chance to expand his game, get a chance to get some consistency there in terms of the roster turnover and the coaching turnover and the things that have not been steady there,” Montgomery said. “That being said, I’m hopeful they will not even give Willie his qualifying offer so Willie can be an unrestricted free agent.”
Montgomery said it would be best for Cauley-Stein to evolve his game somewhere else. “We haven’t felt that he’s been able to get what has been necessary for him to be able to lead the franchise the way he wants to,” Montgomery said. “We are very, very thankful for the opportunity that was presented to him, but we just think it’s not working. It’s not going to work. It’s just time for a fresh start. We need a fresh start and maybe the Kings do, too.”
The team hasn’t shut the door on a return of the incumbent starter, Willie Cauley-Stein. He is long and athletic, but his inconsistent play continues to concern the Kings.
While the media was gathered around his locker following Tuesday’s loss to the Houston Rockets, Cauley-Stein turned to rookie Marvin Bagley III and said: “I can’t wait to get out.” Cauley-Stein had a certain look on his face. Bagley used sentence fragments to warn Cauley-Stein not to say anything crazy to reporters.
Cauley-Stein — still sitting, thankfully — insisted he just wanted to get out of the locker room, saying the “vibe” wasn’t right that night, a valid explanation that allayed my skepticism. So maybe he doesn’t want out. Now what? “I just want to hoop freely,” Cauley-Stein said. “That’s kind of the biggest thing for me, just going somewhere, whether it’s here or anywhere else, and taking that next evolution to the game where you’re not just a rim runner.”
Acquiring Kanter might make the Kings more willing to part with center Willie Cauley-Stein, who could become a restricted free agent this summer. The Kings have pursued Washington Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. in free agency and trade talks over the past couple of years. Cauley-Stein could be a key player in a deal for Porter.
The Kings have to make a decision on Cauley-Stein this summer, when he will be a restricted free agent. It’s a difficult choice. Sacramento has to either tear down the team and build around Bagley or keep him in a smaller role off the bench that he won’t be happy in. Neither choice is appealing, especially since the team has to give its first-round pick in this year’s draft to either the Celtics or Sixers. This is the franchise for the near future. The Kings’ future would look different if they could plug in a high lottery pick who clicked with their young core.
Cauley-Stein’s candor can rile those who see a lot of talk without the credentials to warrant his self-confidence. He has no problem admitting he’s out for a big contract, when the politically-correct approach would be to say he’s focused on winning, not getting paid. The Kings want to see consistency before committing big bucks to Cauley-Stein and the big man knows if he heeds Divac’s wishes, he has good reason to have money on his mind. “By all means it’s not out of it,” Cauley-Stein said. “I have a complete goal of what I want to get and how to get there and they’re giving me the tools to get there and that’s dominating both sides of the floor. They’ve made it clear, dominate both sides of the floor and what you think is going to happen is going to happen. So that’s what I came in to do.”
Every once in a while, though, you hear something decidedly unique that stands out and becomes worthy of writing. On Monday afternoon, Willie Cauley-Stein sat in the hot seat and bared his soul. In midseason form, the fourth-year center said exactly what was on his mind. “I’m ready to get paid,” Cauley-Stein told NBC Sports California. “This is what we’ve got to do, that’s what type of focus I’m on. I’m ready for it. I’ve seen everybody else -- all my peers. All right, I’m ready for that. What do I got to do to do that? That’s what they’re doing? All right, I’m going to go ahead and do this now. I was doing it this way, obviously it wasn’t working, so now let's do it this way.”
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Rick Carlisle on Pacers veterans: They were disappointed with how things have gone

What’s the message the veterans are giving you about the last two years? Rick Carlisle: They were disappointed with how things have gone. We’ve got to work at developing a style of play so we can maximize what we have here. Exactly what that means as far as number of wins or the playoffs, I don’t know. I’m reluctant to get into that kind of stuff, because sometimes you can set goals that are too low.
How have you evolved as a coach since you were here before? Rick Carlisle: Going from Detroit to here, they were different types of teams, and going to Dallas—the Dallas team was way different than any team I had coached before. It was much more of an outside-shooting team … so it was an amazing experience and education how to work with that kind of group. And then the game has changed an awful lot in the last 13 years, particularly in the last five. Because of the pace, the skill level, the 3-point shot, everything. In two years there, we set offensive records on points per possessions, and then this last year Brooklyn beat both. These records are going to keep falling because of the skill level.
How has the talent level progressed in the NBA? Rick Carlisle: The game has evolved to where the skill of shooting is so decisively important. If you can’t shoot, it’s very hard to be a high-level player in today’s game. The next phase of NBA basketball is going to be the centers shooting 3’s and driving the ball and making plays. Guys like [Kristaps] Porzingis are already doing it. Guys like Anthony Davis are already doing it. We’ve got [Domantas] Sabonis, who is a playmaking big, who’s working on his long-range shooting. That opens up so many possibilities for any player in this league.