While most players on expiring deals downplay the extent to which they’re thinking about their contract situation, that’s not the case for Willie Cauley-Stein. The fourth-year Kings big man told James Ham of NBC Sports California that he’s entering his contract year “ready to get paid.”
“I’m ready for it,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve seen everybody else – all my peers. Alright, I’m ready for that. What do I got to do to do that? That’s what they’re doing? Alright, 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.”
Because he’s in the fourth year of his rookie scale contract, Cauley-Stein is eligible to sign a contract extension up until October 15. However, Ham writes that the Kings are unlikely to do a long-term deal for the former sixth overall pick at this point. He’s more likely to reach restricted free agency next summer, so his play this season could go a long way toward determining what his market looks like in 2019.
In 73 games (58 starts) last season, Cauley-Stein established new career highs in PPG (12.8), RPG (7.0), APG (2.4), and several other categories. However, his production was somewhat inconsistent on a night-to-night basis, which is something he’ll be looking to improve upon heading into 2018/19.
“Consistency, that’s the word of the decade for me,” Cauley-Stein told Ham. “Consistency. That’s what’s going to get you paid. So I’m going to say it until it happens. That’s how it works these days. Just keep on talking about it, eventually it’s just going to happen.”
While Cauley-Stein looks like the frontrunner to open the season as Sacramento’s starting center, the 25-year-old will face plenty of competition for playing time. Over the offseason, the Kings added Marvin Bagley III and Nemanja Bjelica to a frontcourt that already includes Zach Randolph, Skal Labissiere, and Kosta Koufos. The team also envisions a regular role for Harry Giles, who missed his entire rookie year while recovering from ACL injuries.