NBA Rumor: Willie Cauley-Stein Free Agency

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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.

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.

Willie Cauley-Stein wants out of Sacramento

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.”

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.”

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.”

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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September 16, 2021 | 1:03 pm EDT Update

Cameron Oliver back to the NBA

The Cairns Taipans have announced that high-flying import Cameron Oliver will not be returning to the NBL this season, and instead accept an Exhibit 10 contract in California. The club originally signed Oliver with the intentions of providing him with a pathway to a higher level and are thrilled that he is one step closer to the NBA. After a stellar debut with the Taipans, Oliver committed to a new two-year deal in 2020. His second season with the club was cut short due to family reasons, which the club accepted and provided him with a release to return home to the US. He received a 10-day contract with the Houston Rockets towards the end of the 2020-21 NBA season and in August suited up for the Golden State Warriors at Summer League.
“This is such a positive outcome. Cam said that he has never felt this close to his NBA dream, and this is exactly what we want. It speaks volumes of the Taipans organisation because they took a chance on him and look where he is now,” said Coach Forde. “I came into this role knowing that Cam was on the fringe of the NBA – so we have been diligently planning for this possibility and it’s fortunate it’s at this time, during the pre-season. We’ve been prepared for all scenarios but now we can progress forward with certainty. “I’m so happy for him, the team are extremely proud of him and now we get to move forward, sign another talented player and focus on winning a Championship for Cairns.”
Garza, who was the 52nd overall pick, was named to the All-Summer League second team after averaging 15 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one blocked shot in five games with the Pistons. He finished off his stay in Las Vegas with his best game, recording 21 points and 15 rebounds. According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Pistons are expected to convert Garza’s two-way contract to a standard NBA deal prior to the start of the season. Detroit would then have an open two-way spot they could use to sign an additional player.
What is your take on the Zach LaVine FA rumors in 2022? How realistic is it for the Celtics financially and roster wise? Thanks, Jeff. Brian Robb: LaVine is a name that has been floated for a little bit as a potential target for Boston if Bradley Beal elects to stay put in Washington. His age and position do line up fairly well among Boston’s current group, however, there are some significant obstacles in any pursuit of the shooting guard during the next year.
A potential Celtics free agent target could be Chicago’s Zach LaVine, who is entering the final year of his contract. He will have to prove he can lead the Bulls to the playoffs before a contract extension. LaVine changed representation recently and signed with Klutch Sports, which is usually the move for players who want to maximize their free agent potential. LaVine, 26, just coming off helping Team USA to the gold medal, will ask for a maximum contract in the open market. The Olympic experience may have enhanced LaVine’s value because he was asked to be a three-and-D player, sparking the Americans with his full-court defense and ability to run the floor. In the case that Bradley Beal decides to stay in Washington, LaVine could be the Celtics’ No. 1 target. The Bulls, who added DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in the offseason, have full intentions to be a factor in the Eastern Conference .