The Mavericks are exercising their team option on reserve center Willie Cauley-Stein, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The option will pay Cauley-Stein $4.1MM for the 2021/22 season.
During his second year (and first full season) in Dallas in 2020/21, Cauley-Stein averaged 5.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 0.8 BPG over 17.1 MPG in 53 games. After being selected with the sixth pick out of Kentucky in 2015 by the Kings, Cauley-Stein spent his first four NBA seasons in Sacramento.
The seven-footer enjoyed several productive runs on lottery-bound Kings squads, averaging 11.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.2 SPG during his first — and so far only — year as a full-time starter, 2018/19.
He then joined the Warriors as a free agent in 2019, hoping to fill the same two-way, low-usage center role within that club’s humming offense that helped JaVale McGee win two titles in Golden State. Despite being a starter with Golden State, Cauley-Stein was shipped out out in 2020 to the Mavericks, where he finished off that pandemic-truncated season as a backup behind Maxi Kleber.
Holding on to Cauley-Stein seems like a savvy, cost-efficient move for the Mavs. At 27, the athletic rim-rolling big man could still have untapped upside and room to grow with Dallas.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.