Willie Cauley-Stein

Mavs Exercise Team Option On Willie Cauley-Stein

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.

Free Agent Rumors: Dinwiddie, Schröder, Oubre, Cauley-Stein

The idea of Nets free agent Spencer Dinwiddie replacing Russell Westbrook as the Wizards‘ point guard seems to be gaining momentum.

After multiple reporters mentioned the Dinwiddie-to-D.C. possibility earlier in the week, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer writes today that with Chris Paul likely to return to the Suns, Dinwiddie is expected to be the next free agent point guard off the board. A sign-and-trade that sends either Kyle Kuzma or Montrezl Harrell to the Nets and Dinwiddie to the Wizards is a real possibility, Fischer suggests.

Fischer adds that the Nets are continuing to look for ways to move off of DeAndre Jordan‘s contract.

We have more free agency rumors:

  • According to Zach Lowe of ESPN neither the Wizards nor the Kings are interested in a sign-and-trade for Dennis Schröder. That means Buddy Hield may be out as an option for the Lakers, and it will be a challenge to expand the Lakers/Wizards blockbuster any further using Schröder. As Lowe notes, a handful of teams in need of a point guard have ample cap space, so there will be few paths for the Lakers to recoup value for losing Schröder.
  • Kelly Oubre has interest in the Spurs and believes his career could flourish under Gregg Popovich and the team’s renowned development staff, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. If the Spurs renounce some of their current free agents, they’d have more than enough space to make a big free agent signing, though it’s unclear whether Oubre would be at the top of their list, especially given his skill-set/positional overlap with Keldon Johnson.
  • The Mavericks are leaning toward picking up the $4.1MM team option on center Willie Cauley-Stein, which would keep him off the free agent market, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. MacMahon writes that Dallas likes the young rim-running big man, but the decision will ultimately hinge on whether or not an opportunity comes up that requires the team to move on from Cauley-Stein.

Mavericks Notes: Redick, Cauley-Stein, Porzingis, Brunson

J.J. Redick participated in his first full practice Saturday since joining the Mavericks and could be ready to play Monday against the Sixers, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. The veteran guard said he experienced no new problems with the sore right heel and Achilles that have kept him out of action since March 3. While he felt pain during practice, Redick said the heel and Achilles are “sore all the time. I’m just managing right now. It was the first time going live and I thought it went really well.”

Dallas acquired Redick from the Pelicans at the trade deadline to provide another outside shooter heading into the postseason. He’s coming off a non-surgical procedure last month to help ease the soreness.

“He really is a very intense, machine-like worker,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “A guy like that is great for the culture of your team. It was great having him out there (Saturday), in as much of a full practice situation as you can get in this kind of a season.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Willie Cauley-Stein, who has been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols since March 18, may be cleared to return today, Townsend adds in a separate story. Cauley-Stein was listed as probable on the team’s injury report. He has missed 12 games, the most of the six Mavericks players who have been in the protocols this season.
  • In another piece, Townsend examines the relationship between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis amid rumors of behind-the-scenes friction involving the franchise cornerstones. “We’re trying to play together and help each other,” Porzingis said when asked about the topic this week. “We want to win. At the end, we all want to win here. We have to keep playing, keep playing together, and keep playing well and help each other.”
  • Dallas considered Jalen Brunson “basically untouchable” in talks before the trade deadline, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest podcast (hat tip to Tyler Watts of FanSided). Windhorst added that the Mavericks view the third-year point guard as “a foundational core piece going forward.”

Southwest Notes: Ball, Mavericks, Porter, Dieng

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball expressed his excitement to remain in New Orleans beyond the trade deadline and his enthusiasm for the club’s trajectory beyond this season, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“I’m just comfortable here,” Ball said of the Pelicans. “I also love playing with [Zion Williamson] and [Brandon Ingram]. We have a lot of young guys. I think we can be good in the time coming.” The point guard, selected with the second pick in 2017, will be a restricted free agent this summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein and point guard Tyrell Terry remain indefinitely away from the club, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Cauley-Stein is still in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, while Terry has been absent due to personal reasons for the past two weeks. “We don’t have timetables,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll let you [reporters] know when we know something. Other than that, there’s not much we can talk about.”
  • After trading away shooting guard Victor Oladipo, the 13-34 Rockets have clearly embraced their rebuild. In a happy surprise, 20-year-old new acquisition Kevin Porter Jr.‘s development has proven to be a bright spot just four games into his Houston tenure, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “He’s done everything that we need him to do,” head coach Stephen Silas said. “We have a lot of trust in him. There’s going to be ups and downs and conversations to be had just like every other player, but my door is always open and there’s a support system that can help him be successful on and off the floor.”
  • Newly-signed Spurs center Gorgui Dieng sprained his shoulder during his San Antonio debut and will miss tonight’s contest against the Hawks, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Head coach Gregg Popovich speculated that, while there was fortunately no structural damage to the shoulder, the big man will miss at least a week, per Orsborn (Twitter link). “I am just going to make a guess, which is probably not wise, but it’s pretty much going to be on pain tolerance,” Popovich said. “I think it’s going to be another good week before he is able to use that.”

Southwest Notes: Harden, Cauley-Stein, Richardson, Popovich

NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained during an ESPN appearance that Rockets star James Harden didn’t face a suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols because the NBA didn’t want to set that harsh a precedent to start the season, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Harden was fined $50K after an NBA investigation found that Harden violated protocols when he attended an indoor party of 15 or more people.

“The precedent is that discipline gets ratcheted up,” Silver said. “It’s Christmas. It was a first offense.”

Silver said, adding “in a way he got lucky.” If the Rockets’ first game had not been postponed, Harden would have been docked one game’s pay, Feigen adds. Harden is expected to make his season debut on Saturday.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

Mavericks Re-Sign Willie Cauley-Stein To Two-Year Deal

DECEMBER 1: The Mavericks have made it official, formally announcing that they’ve re-signed Cauley-Stein.


NOVEMBER 22: The Mavericks have agreed to bring back veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Cauley-Stein will sign a two-year contract worth $8.2MM. This signing would most likely be achieved via Dallas’s mid-level exception.

Charania adds (via Twitter) that there will be a second-year team option on Cauley-Stein’s contract, and notes that Dallas pivoted to a new deal with the big man after falling out of the mix for Marc Gasol.

Sources tell Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) that the Mavericks are “most likely done” with their offseason dealmaking, but caution that “in this crazy environment you never know.” The club’s biggest new offseason addition is swingman Josh Richardson, brought in via a trade with the Sixers for Seth Curry that also yielded the rights to rookie guard Tyler Bey.

Cauley-Stein, 27, played 13 games for the Mavericks last season, averaging 5.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 0.8 BPG in 12.1 MPG. Dallas traded for the 7′ center after starter Dwight Powell went down with an Achilles tear in January. Power forward/centers Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber will be ahead of Cauley-Stein in the center rotation.

Luke Adams contributed to this report. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mavs’ Willie Cauley-Stein To Decline Player Option

Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein will turn down his $2.29MM player option for the 2020/21 season and become an unrestricted free agent, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. A report earlier this week had indicated that Cauley-Stein may be leaning in that direction.

Cauley-Stein signed a two-year deal with the Warriors last summer that was worth a little more than the minimum, with a second-year player option. However, after 41 games in Golden State, he was dealt to Dallas, where he finished the season. In total, he appeared in 54 games, averaging 7.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 20.3 minutes per contest.

There’s a little risk involved in the decision for Cauley-Stein, who would take a pay cut if he has to settle for a minimum-salary contract in free agency this time around — his minimum would be worth about $1.88MM.

It’s not clear if his decision is a signal that he’s seeking a raise or if he just wasn’t enthusiastic about returning to Dallas, where his playing time slipped to a career-low 12.1 MPG and he mostly fell out of the club’s rotation down the stretch.

Cauley-Stein is one of two Mavericks veterans holding a player option for the 2020/21 season. The other – Tim Hardaway Jr. – is considered likely to opt in.

Western Notes: Suns, Hardaway, WCS, Lakers, Thunder

The Suns are expected to finalize their trade for Chris Paul before the new league year begins on Friday, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com. If that’s the case, the expectation is that Phoenix won’t use cap room this fall, opting to remain an over-the-cap team instead.

While that may prevent the Suns from making one bigger splash on the free agent market, it means the club will retain the flexibility to bring back one or more of Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, and Frank Kaminsky. Phoenix will also have the full mid-level ($9.3MM) and bi-annual ($3.6MM) exceptions available to make additional upgrades to its roster.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • A Mavericks source who spoke to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) says the team thinks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. will likely exercise his player option, while big man Willie Cauley-Stein may not.
  • In addition to his previously reported workouts with Utah, Denver, Miami, and the Clippers, Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji has also auditioned for the Lakers, he said today (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune). However, Nnaji projects to be a late first-round selection, so he may no longer be an option for the Lakers now that they’ve traded the No. 28 pick.
  • Former Thunder big men Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison were involved in the team’s head coaching search process, according to Royce Young of ESPN, who tweets that Mohammed and Collison met with candidates to represent the player perspective.
  • In a piece for ESPN.com, Royce Young takes a deep dive into the Timberwolves‘ draft preparations as they get ready to use – or trade – this year’s No. 1 overall pick.

And-Ones: Option Decisions, Avdija, Draft, Onuaku

With the NBA season over and 2020’s free agent period approaching (eventually), John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at all 43 team and player option decisions that must be made this fall, evaluating which options are likely to be exercised and which will be turned down.

While Anthony Davis and Jerami Grant are viewed as the only locks to decline their respective player options this offseason, Hollinger identifies seven more players who he thinks will opt for free agency: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Wesley Matthews, Austin Rivers, Willie Cauley-Stein, and James Ennis.

With the exception of Caldwell-Pope, McGee, and Cauley-Stein – who is technically earning slightly above the minimum – those players are all on minimum-salary deals, so it won’t be a surprise if they explore the open market, even if they have to settle for another minimum contract. However, KCP’s case should be interesting — his $8.49MM option for 2020/21 is close to mid-level territory, but he could still probably do better after an impressive showing in the NBA Finals.

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

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks take a look at next steps for the NBA, including what next season’s schedule might look like and when roster moves might resume. While there’s currently a freeze on transactions, team executives confirmed to ESPN that the moratorium will be lifted and trades will be permitted before the draft on November 18.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jeremy Woo of SI.com have each published updated versions of their mock drafts for 2020. Both draft experts have Anthony Edwards going No. 1, but O’Connor has a surprise pick at No. 2, penciling in Deni Avdija. League executives expect Avdija to “enter the mainstream conversation as a top-three pick” in the coming weeks, according to O’Connor.
  • Former NBA big man Chinanu Onuaku has reached an agreement to sign with Croatian team KK Zadar, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Onuaku was the 37th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but didn’t see much action in two seasons with Houston, appearing in just six total games before being traded and waived.

Western Notes: Fox, Schröder, Suns, Cauley-Stein

On Wednesday, the Kings gave us an update on De’Aaron Fox, who suffered a left ankle sprain last week. The Kings said that the former first-round pick has returned to the court and is doing non-contact basketball activities.

That being said, Fox is not available for the team’s first scrimmage against the Heat. However, head coach Luke Walton told reporters that they are optimistic will be available for the team’s opener on Jul. 31 against the Spurs (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California).

This season, the former Kentucky Wildcat standout is averaging 20.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.8 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 31.7 MPG.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Thunder general manager Sam Presti explained why he believes Dennis Schröder is worthy of winning Sixth Man of the Year. “I think he’s playing the best basketball of his career,” Presti said (via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). “He’s all about trying to do what’s right for the team right now, and he’s just an elite competitor. I’m happy that he’s playing so well, and I hope he does get recognized for it.” This season, the veteran guard is averaging 19 PPG while shooting 38.1% from three-point range.
  • The Suns announced on Wednesday that point guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque are not in Orlando due to personal reasons, per Gina Mizell (Twitter link). However, both players are expected to arrive at a later date. With Ricky Rubio clearing quarantine, both Okobo and Lecque will not see major minutes for Phoenix.
  • According to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, Willie Cauley-Stein signed with Young Money APAA Sports, an agency based in Dallas, Texas. The 26-year-old is not with the Mavericks in Orlando due to the birth of his daughter this month. Dallas acquired the young center in February from the Warriors.