Willie Cauley-Stein

Willie Cauley-Stein Signs With Italian Team

Veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein will continue his career in Italy, according to Eurohoops. The 29-year-old has signed with Pallacanestro Varese, which plays in the LBA (Lega Basket Serie A).

Cauley-Stein didn’t appear in any NBA games last season, even though he signed three contracts with the Rockets, including one that covered just the final day of the regular season. He averaged 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 13 regular season games with Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Cauley-Stein was taken by the Kings with the sixth pick in the 2015 draft and earned second team All-Rookie honors. He eventually became Sacramento’s starting center and enjoyed his best NBA seasons with 12.8 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 2017/18 and 11.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG in 2018/19.

He signed with the Warriors as a free agent in 2019, but was traded to the Mavericks midway through the season. He remained with Dallas until being waived in January of 2022, then appeared in two games for the Sixers on a 10-day contract.

Varese will be Cauley-Stein’s first venture into international basketball. His notable teammates will include former Grizzlies forward Sean McDermott and ex-Michigan State and G League forward Gabe Brown.

Contract Details: Samanic, Carey, Lakers, Cauley-Stein, More

The Jazz used a portion of their mid-level exception to give Luka Samanic a rest-of-season salary of $432,795 on his new two-year deal, Hoops Rumors has learned. A minimum salary for 2022/23 for the final three days of the season would have paid Samanic just $32,795, so Utah took advantage of its flexibility with the MLE to give him significantly more than that.

In return, the Jazz will have Samanic under contract for a non-guaranteed minimum salary in 2023/24. His $2.07MM cap hit would become partially guaranteed for $400K if he isn’t waived on or before July 18. That partial guarantee would increase to $600K after October 23.

Vernon Carey Jr., the other player who signed with the Jazz during the season’s final weekend, also got a portion of the team’s mid-level exception, receiving $100K for the end of the 2022/23 season. Like Samanic, Carey has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2023/24 on his new deal. He doesn’t have any offseason guarantee dates, but would be assured of receiving his full ’23/24 salary (approximately $2MM) if he remains under contract through October 23.

We have a few more details on recently signed contracts:

  • Both Tristan Thompson and Shaquille Harrison signed minimum-salary contracts with the Lakers, but Thompson’s deal only covers the rest of this season, while Harrison’s includes a non-guaranteed salary for 2023/24.
  • The contract that Willie Cauley-Stein signed with the Rockets on the final day of the regular season was just a one-year deal, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent again this summer.
  • Kobi Simmons received a two-year, minimum-salary deal with a non-guaranteed 2023/24 salary when he was promoted to the Hornets‘ standard roster from his two-way contract.
  • The two-way contracts recently signed by RaiQuan Gray (Nets), Dereon Seabron (Pelicans), Jacob Gilyard (Grizzlies), and Xavier Sneed (Hornets) all include a second year.

Rockets Sign Willie Cauley-Stein

The Rockets have officially signed free agent center Willie Cauley-Stein, the team announced today (via Twitter).

Houston’s announcement doesn’t include any details on Cauley-Stein’s contract, so it’s unclear if it extends beyond this season at all or if it’s essentially just a one-day deal.

Cauley-Stein and the Rockets agreed to a one-year contract last offseason, but the big man’s salary was non-guaranteed and he was waived at the end of the preseason. He later rejoined the team on a 10-day deal near the end of February but has been an NBA free agent since that contract expired.

Cauley-Stein spent much of the season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate. In 13 NBAGL regular season games, he averaged 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.5 blocks in 27.0 minutes per night. He also contributed 6.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.0 BPG in 16 Showcase Cup contests (24.2 MPG).

The sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Cauley-Stein has appeared in 422 total regular season games for the Kings, Mavericks, Warriors, and Sixers, but is a borderline NBA player at this point, as his game isn’t an ideal fit for the league’s current style.

The Rockets were one of three NBA teams that entered Sunday with an open 15-man roster spot, so no one needed to be waived in order to make room for Cauley-Stein.

Southwest Notes: Cauley-Stein, Smith, Wembanyama, Morant

Veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein‘s 10-day deal with the Rockets has expired, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Feigen adds that Houston does not have any players on the docket to fill his roster spot immediately.

Given that the Rockets are now carrying just 13 players on standard contracts, one below the NBA’s required minimum, they’ll have two weeks to add a 14th player. As Feigen notes, Cauley-Stein did not play while with Houston.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. has struggled in an uneven first pro season, Feigen writes in a separate article. Selected with the third pick in 2022 out of Auburn, the 6’10” power forward has exhibited enticing defensive flashes, but has struggled offensively, Feigen notes.
  • The rebuilding Spurs‘ current players can’t help but acknowledge the ongoing sweepstakes for the right to draft top 2023 prospect Victor Wembanyama, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s hard not to avoid looking at the bottom,” forward Keita Bates-Diop said. “I don’t like looking at it when I see it.” Veteran San Antonio forward Doug McDermott also weighed in: “I know everyone is probably aware of (the standings). You see it on social media and it’s kind of hard to escape. But it’s not like I’m checking on my phone every night to see where we’re at.”
  • Warriors power forward Draymond Green weighed in on the plight of troubled Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant on his self-titled podcast. Green opined that Morant could learn from All-Star veterans LeBron James and Stephen Curry, both of whom have been model citizens while operating as the de facto faces of the league. (hat tip to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal for the transcription). “You can’t be the face of the NBA putting the NBA in harm’s way,” Green said. “A team competing at a championship level, No. 2 seed in the West, it’s being thrown away.”

Willie Cauley-Stein Signs 10-Day Deal With Rockets

5:50pm: Cauley-Stein’s 10-day contract with Houston is now official, the team announced in a press release. It will run through March 8, covering the Rockets’ next five games.

9:33am: The Rockets will sign veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein to a 10-day contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. 

Cauley-Stein signed with Houston in October, but was waived before the start of the regular season. He has been playing for the team’s G League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, averaging 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in 10 regular season games and 6.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 16 Showcase Cup contests.

The 29-year-old appeared in 20 combined games with the Mavericks and Sixers last season. He was waived by Dallas in mid-January and signed a 10-day contract with Philadelphia in late February, but has been out of the league since then.

Cauley-Stein was selected by the Kings with the sixth pick in the 2015 draft and has played 422 games in seven seasons.

The Rockets have been carrying just 13 players with standard contracts since waiving Justin Holiday on February 13. They were required by league rules to fill at least one of their roster openings by today.

And-Ones: Media Rights, G League, Bledsoe, Beasley, Franklin

When the NBA negotiates its next television deal, expect the league to sell a separate package of streaming-only games, writes Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports. As McCarthy outlines, the NFL and MLB have sold packages of games to Amazon and Apple in recent years, and the NBA is expected to follow suit, with Amazon in particular having made it clear it wants to get into business with the league.

“Amazon is locked and loaded for a shot at the NBA,” a source told Front Office Sports.

According to McCarthy, sports media consultant Patrick Crakes estimated that the bidding for a streaming-only NBA package could start in the neighborhood of $1 billion per year. The league’s current TV deal with ESPN/ABC and Turner Sports pays the league about $2.6 billion annually — the next rights deal is expected to double or triple that figure, McCarthy writes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Rockets Waive Willie Cauley-Stein, Pierria Henry

The Rockets have waived veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein and guard Pierria Henry, the team announced.

Both deals were non-guaranteed, so Cauley-Stein and Henry were long shots to make the opening night roster, because the Rockets are already at the regular season limit of 15 players on guaranteed standard contracts (not including Derrick Favors, who is expected to be waived before the season starts).

Cauley-Stein has appeared in 422 regular season games (256 starts, 22 MPG) since being drafted sixth overall by the Kings in 2015, holding career averages of 8.7 PPG and 5.9 RPG. However, he only appeared in 20 games (9.2 MPG) last season with the Mavericks and Sixers, having been cut by both teams.

Henry has played exclusively in Europe since going undrafted out of Charlotte in 2015, and he’s had a strong pro career, winning a Turkish League championship with Fenerbahçe in 2022 and a Spanish League title in 2020 with Baskonia. He holds career averages of 9.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.1 APG and 1.6 SPG on .451/.351/.782 shooting overseas.

The 29-year-old played for the Wizards’ Summer League team in July. It appears as though Henry hopes to make the NBA by playing for Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. If he signed an Exhibit 10 deal, he’d be eligible for a bonus worth up to $50K if he spends at least 60 days with the Vipers.

Rockets Sign Willie Cauley-Stein

OCTOBER 9: The deal with Cauley-Stein is official, the Rockets announced in a press release.

AUGUST 12: The Rockets and free agent center Willie Cauley-Stein have agreed to a one-year contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but Charania suggests that Cauley-Stein will compete in training camp for a spot on the regular season roster. That means it’s almost certainly a minimum-salary deal and likely won’t be fully guaranteed.

Cauley-Stein, who will turn 29 next Thursday, appeared in a total of 20 games last season for the Mavericks and Sixers, playing a limited role. In 2020/21, the big man averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 53 contests (17.1 MPG) for Dallas. He has also spent time with Sacramento and Golden State since entering the league as the sixth overall pick in 2015.

The Rockets currently have 20 players under contract, so they’ll have to waive or trade someone in order to make Cauley-Stein’s signing official.

Western Notes: Marjanovic, Cauley-Stein, Lakers Arena, Warriors

What is the status of the ever popular Boban Marjanovic? According to Marc Stein in a Substack post, Marjanovic has a place on the Rockets’ opening night roster despite an excess of big men.

Marjanovic was dealt by Dallas as part of its package for Christian Wood. He has one season left on the two-year, $7MM contract he signed last offseason.

Alperen Şengün is projected as Houston’s starting center, with Bruno Fernando and Willie Cauley-Stein also vying for spots on the regular season roster.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The addition of Cauley-Stein isn’t official yet, as Houston must clear a roster space to sign him. He’s a low-risk, potentially solid-reward addition, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. Over the past five seasons, Cauley-Stein’s teams defended nearly five points better with him on the floor, Iko notes. He’s still athletic enough to play in Houston’s up-tempo system and should help the team defensively.
  • The home arena for the Lakers and Clippers in undergoing major renovations over the next three summers, according to David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times. Upgrades are being made at every level of Crypto.com Arena, formerly known as the Staples Center. The upgrades include new jumbo screens, updated concession stands, a better sound system and an enhanced “fan experience.” The Clippers are scheduled to leave for their new arena in 2024.
  • Which member of the Warriors’ big three will leave? In a mailbag post, Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett speculates that Draymond Green is the only one who might depart in the near future. Stephen Curry has four years left on his deal and is the face of the franchise, while Klay Thompson has two years left on his contract and will likely sign another with Golden State. Green can opt out of his contract after next season and the heavily taxed Warriors may pin their hopes on one of their young frontcourt players emerging at a lower cost, Bulpett writes.

Wolves Notes: Cauley-Stein, Edwards, Beverley, Ownership

In an appearance on Darren Wolfson’s The Scoop podcast at SKOR North, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said that Minnesota is considering adding a free agent who could help improve the team’s rebounding numbers.

Asked specifically if the Wolves could bring back veteran center Greg Monroe, who was on a 10-day deal with the club earlier this season, Taylor responded, “We’re looking at a number of possibilities.”

According to Wolfson, one possible target the Wolves have discussed internally is Willie Cauley-Stein, who recently spent time in Philadelphia on a 10-day deal. Cody Zeller, who was waived last month while recovering from a procedure on his knee, isn’t currently considered an option, Wolfson adds.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Anthony Edwards has missed the Timberwolves’ last four games due to knee soreness, but Taylor is confident the injury is not a major issue. “We’re dealing with some swelling and some pain,” Taylor told Wolfson. “We just want to buy a little time, but it’s nothing major or anything that will keep him from being out there soon.”
  • Taylor doesn’t anticipate a significant offseason roster shakeup in Minnesota. “Most players are already signed for next year, so there won’t be major changes,” he told Wolfson.
  • One player who had been on track for unrestricted free agency this summer was guard Patrick Beverley, but he signed a one-year, $13MM extension with the Wolves in February. Taylor said that was a fairly straightforward negotiation, since both sides had interest in continuing the relationship, and that the main issue was deciding on the length of the contract. Beverley “preferred to add something longer,” according to Taylor, who said the team wanted to maintain some flexibility beyond 2022/23.
  • Asked by Wolfson if the plan is still for Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore to assume majority control of the Timberwolves in December 2023, Taylor replied, “Probably.” Pressed on whether it could happen sooner than next December or later than that, Taylor said that both scenarios are possible, indicating that nothing is set in stone yet.