Willie Cauley-Stein

And-Ones: Cauley-Stein, Rondo, Curry/Ionescu, Silver, Morant

Longtime NBA big man Willie Cauley-Stein, whose last brief stint in the league came with the Rockets at the end of the 2022/23 season, has signed with Indios de Mayaguez, the Puerto Rican team announced (Facebook link).

The sixth overall pick in 2015, Cauley-Stein signed with Italian club Pallacanestro Varese last summer, but the two sides parted ways in December, freeing up the veteran center to join a new team.

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

  • Four-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo was arrested on Sunday in Indiana for unlawful possession of a firearm, drug paraphernalia, and marijuana, reports Jason Riley of WDRB.com. An initial court hearing has been scheduled for February 27. Rondo appeared in nearly 1,100 total regular season and playoff games from 2006-22 but hasn’t been in the NBA since finishing the 2021/22 season with Cleveland.
  • The NBA confirmed on Tuesday in a press release that Warriors star Stephen Curry and WNBA sharpshooter Sabrina Ionescu will compete in a one-on-one three-point contest for charity on All-Star Saturday next month. Ionescu, who racked up 37 of 40 possible points in the final round of last season’s WNBA three-point contest, will shoot from the WNBA three-point line using WNBA balls, while Curry shoots from the NBA three-point line using NBA balls.
  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press lays out why Adam Silver‘s contract extension as NBA commissioner was seemingly a “no-brainer,” noting that that seems to be the consensus among players around the league as well. “Our league, from the time that I came in until now, it’s 10 times better,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “Everything’s more organized. … I think he’s done a tremendous job. He’s definitely a max player.”
  • Grizzlies star Ja Morant is launching an AAU basketball program called “Twelve Time” that will be based in South Carolina and Georgia. Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the story.

International Notes: EuroLeague, Exum, Reath, Cauley-Stein, Zizic

Kemba Walker is among several former NBA players struggling to make the adjustment to the EuroLeague, writes Dimitris Minaretzis of Eurohoops. After signing with AS Monaco this summer, the 33-year-old guard is averaging just 4.4 points and 1.1 assists per game as he fights for playing time in a crowded backcourt. Knee injuries plagued Walker throughout the end of his NBA career, and they appear to still be limiting his effectiveness in Europe.

Elsewhere, Minaretzis notes that FC Barcelona’s Jabari Parker is averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while KK Partizan has PJ Dozier at 9.2 points and 3.2 assists per night and Frank Kaminsky at 8.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

The only players who are standing out after being on NBA rosters last season are Serge Ibaka, who’s averaging 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for Bayern Munich, and Kendrick Nunn, who is at 11.6 points and 2.5 assists per night with Panathinaikos. Ibaka has previous EuroLeague experience, having played in Spain before being drafted in 2008.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • After making a surprising impact with their NBA clubs, Dante Exum and Duop Reath are in contention for starting spots with the Australian Olympic team, according to Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Exum, who recently moved into the Mavericks‘ starting lineup because of his strong play, is averaging 15.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists over his last 10 games, and Uluc notes that he’s given Dallas a secondary ball-handler while serving as a strong complement to Luka Doncic. Reath has become a productive weapon for the Trail Blazers after earning a two-way deal in camp. He provides an outside shooting threat and has reached double figures in scoring in seven of Portland’s last 10 games. Reath posted a career-high 25 points against Sacramento this week and may have surpassed Jock Landale as the Boomers’ best option at center.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein‘s first venture in Europe has ended after 20 games, per Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Pallacanestro Varese announced that it has parted ways with the 30-year-old center, who averaged 9.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks for the Italian team.
  • Croatian center Ante Zizic has signed with Virtus Bologna, the team announced in a press release. Zizic, 26, was a first-round pick in 2017 and played 113 total games with Cleveland from 2017 to 2020. He captured a Turkish championship and the President’s Cup last season with Anadolu Efes.

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.