Willie Cauley-Stein

Lowe’s Latest: Rockets, Prince, Blazers, Heat

The Rockets and Cavaliers had discussions about sending Brandon Knight to Cleveland along with a first-round pick in exchange for Alec Burks. However, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that those talks have ceased. Houston has also spoken with the Grizzlies about potential Knight deals.

Cleveland is selling Burks, Rodney Hood, and any other “indispensable asset” prior to the deadline, Lowe writes. The team is willing to take back future salary in exchange for picks.

Houston is expected to scour the market for deals leading up to the deadline with an eye on attaching a future first-rounder to Knight and Marquese Chriss. The Rockets would likely push for lottery protections on any picks that would convey past James Harden‘s prime.

Lowe’s latest piece contains trade nuggets from several teams in the league and we’ve already passed along news from the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sweepstakes as well as the Magic’s pre-deadline plan. Here are the rest of the newsworthy notes from the ESPN piece:

  • The Hawks have made Taurean Prince available in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Atlanta hasn’t received a ton of traction on Prince deals because of its asking price. The organization wants a young prospect and a pick in exchange for the small forward.
  • The Blazers have put their first-rounder on the table in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Portland has reached out about Otto Porter Jr.‘s availability, though Wizards owner Ted Leonsis previously announced that the team would not be trading Porter before the deadline.
  • Porter has drawn interest from several teams. In addition to the Blazers, the Mavericks and Jazz have kept an eye on the situation. Dallas was interested in swapping Harrison Barnes for Porter prior to the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
  • Miami appears to be willing to move anyone but Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo for cap relief. Lowe expects the Heat to try to get at least a second-round pick for Wayne Ellington.
  • Lowe confirms a previous report that JaMychal Green, Justin Holiday, and Garrett Temple are all available. Holiday, who was acquired from the Bulls earlier this year, cost the Grizzlies two second-round picks.
  • The Kings have approximately $11MM in cap space available and they want to use it to pick up an asset. Lowe writes that it could be a draft pick or a player who will help them win this season.
  • Sacramento is willing to engage in trade talks about Willie Cauley-Stein, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Kings may simply let the center walk should he receive too high of an offer this offseason.
  • The Bulls are expected to listen to offers for anyone but Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Lowe doesn’t expect Chicago to deal either Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine though, as the team’s asking price is anticipated to be too high.
  • The Nuggets own a pair of trade exceptions and have slightly less than $7MM in breathing room under the tax. They are open to taking on a salary dump if another team calls and has to shed a player in that price range.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Jonas Jerebko, Warriors, PF, 31 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.18MM deal in 2018
Jerebko has bounced around the league the last few seasons but he always stays within his role and provides solid contributions wherever he lands. He’s averaging 7.2 PPG while shooting a career-high 48.9% from the field in 19.8 MPG. He’s also helped on the boards (5.5 RPG). An above-average 3-point shooter, Jerebko shouldn’t have too much trouble finding another contender to sign him as their backup stretch four next summer. It could be Golden State if he’s willing to settle for the veteran’s minimum again.

Tobias Harris, Clippers, 26, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2015
When news leaked over the summer that Harris turned down an $80MM extension offer from the Clippers, many people wondered what Harris was thinking. He was willing to bet on himself that he could do even better as an unrestricted free agent and thus far, the odds have increased in his favor. Harris is posting career highs in several major categories, including scoring (21.0 PPG), shooting (50.8%) and rebounding (8.5 RPG) for one of the league’s surprise teams. When the superstars come off the board, Harris will be next in line for a big payday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The previous Pistons regime declined to give Caldwell-Pope a multi-year extension. He wound up signing a pair of generous one-year contracts with the Lakers but he’s been reduced to backup duty. Most of the shots he’s taken have come from beyond the arc and he’s not particularly good at it (33% this season, 34.4% for his career). Caldwell-Pope doesn’t appear to have a future with the Lakers beyond this season and will have to take a pay cut to find work elsewhere.

Dragan Bender, Suns, 21, PF (Down) — Signed to a three-year, $13.4MM deal in 2016
When the Suns drafted Bender No. 4 overall in 2016, then traded with Sacramento for No. 8 selection Marquese Chriss, they seemingly resolved their power forward spot for years to come. Instead, they wound up with two of the biggest busts in that draft. Chriss was traded away to Houston during training camp while Bender is barely seeing the court in Phoenix. He’s appeared in eight games while averaging just 5.5 MPG. Bender needs a change of scenery but he’ll have to settle for a modest deal next year until he proves he’s a genuine NBA player.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, PF (Up)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
The Kings have a lot of young bigs but Cauley-Stein has been a fixture in the lineup. He’s posting career highs at 14.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG while generally playing the same amount of minutes as last season. Cauley-Stein came into the league with a reputation of being a quality defender and he’s posted positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus ratings each season, according to Basketball-Reference. He’ll be a restricted free agent but might be one of the few who gets a substantial offer sheet, considering Sacramento will like choose to make Marvin Bagley III their main man in the middle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Ariza, James, Cauley-Stein, Ingram

Suns forward Trevor Ariza is viewed by teams as a player who will become available before the NBA’s Feb. 8 trading deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported this week. However, Ariza rejected the idea upon hearing the rumors and explained his desire to stay in Phoenix, despite his team holding just a 4-20 record as of Thursday.

“I’m not one to get somewhere and then just duck out,” Ariza told Gina Mizell of The Athletic. “I’m one to be in it, regardless of whatever the situation is. Fight until the end. That’s the type of person that I am, and that’s what I expect.”

Of course, the Suns could always choose to move Ariza against his wishes if the right deal comes. He signed a one-year, $15MM deal to join the young team in free agency, entering a vastly different situation than what he had in Houston during the 2017/18 season.

“It gives you a different perspective,” Ariza told Mizell. “Although I love to win, sometimes you have to be the person that’s able to take these punches and be able to still get up. (I have to) teach the next generation, teach the younger players how to prepare, how to become better pros.

“Right now, that’s the situation that I’m in, so I’m not worried about it. I’m not crying about it. I’m very thankful for my position. The only thing I can do is hope that we get better every day.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • LeBron James tuned out the noise surrounding him against the Spurs on Wednesday, scoring 20 fourth-quarter points to propel the Lakers to victory. “I’m past the [taking things] personal stage,” James said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I can do whatever. I can have a huge workload, I can have a not so huge workload. … It doesn’t matter for me. What’s most important is seeing my teammates make huge shots in the fourth quarter. … That’s what’s most important to me. I can care less about the narrative about me. It doesn’t matter. I’m a staple in this game.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein is proving his worth with the Kings this season, gunning for a bigger contract in free agency next summer, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. Cauley-Stein is averaging a career-high 14.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, shooting 54% from the floor in 23 contests.
  • Lakers forward Brandon Ingram will miss at least two games after spraining his left ankle on Wednesday, according to McMenamin (Twitter link). Ingram didn’t travel with the team and is set to undergo a precautionary MRI Thursday evening. His status will be updated Friday morning.

Poll: Kings’ Hot Start

The Kings have been one of the season’s biggest surprises so far, as they have jumped out to a 6-4 start. As a result of strong 3-point shooting, the league’s second fastest pace and development from several young players, the Kings have impressed many through their first 10 games.

This is a Kings team that hasn’t won more than 33 games in a season since 2007/08, so a strong start is certainly something that has caught attention. While the team hasn’t been overwhelming on either end of the floor (they are just about league average on both ends), they have gotten strong play from De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica.

In his second season in the league, Fox has made major strides. Heading into the Kings’ loss to the Bucks on Sunday, Fox was averaging 19 points, 7.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Hield is providing another capable scoring option, averaging 19.8 points per game while hitting 48.9% of his 3-pointers. Bjelica has been a great addition for the Kings, as his floor-spacing has been much needed in the starting lineup. So far, Bjelica is averaging 15.6 points per game while shooting a staggering 55.3% on 3-pointers. Finally, Cauley-Stein has improved as a rim-running big, averaging 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

However, teams have gotten off to fast starts only to fade throughout the remainder of the season. Most recently it was the Magic, who got off to an 8-4 start last season, only to finish 25-57. While that Magic team surprised many early in the season due to some unsustainable shooting, there are certainly ways for the Kings to fall back down to the bottom of the standings moving forward.

Perhaps the development from their young players, their key free agency additions and their style of play will lead them to more success than anticipated. What do you think? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Suns, Cauley-Stein, Bell

Lonzo Ball was once again named the Lakers‘ starting point guard on Saturday against the Spurs, but that doesn’t mean his status in the role will be permanent. Rajon Rondo made a solid return to the lineup after being suspended for three games, scoring 12 points and dishing five assists in 29 minutes. Ball struggled in his first start and shot 2-8 from the floor.

“I didn’t play well tonight,” Ball admitted, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “Bad game. I’m human. I don’t play good every game.”

Both Ball and Rondo share similar playstyles, looking to play in transition and make their teammates better. They both struggle shooting from deep and prefer to attack the basket for points. The major difference lies in experience, where Rondo holds 11 more NBA seasons of playing time.

“Doesn’t matter who starts. They are both fine either way,” head coach Walton said. “They just want to win, is what they told me. They know that the decision is made by the coaching staff and they support each other and whatever it is they’ll go out and do their job.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have a promising young core featuring Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Deandre Ayton, but the organization still has a ways to go before reaching true success, writes Gina Mizell of The Athletic. “Teams don’t just overnight become championship organizations or great playoff teams,” Suns forward Ryan Anderson said. “It takes time to build. You have to allow some time for that, but you can’t really make an excuse for not playing hard.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein has so far backed up his talk about getting paid next summer, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. Cauley-Stein has averaged an impressive 16.5 points and eight rebounds in six games for the Kings this season.
  • The Mercury News’ Logan Murdock details how Jordan Bell plans to work himself back into the Warriors’ rotation. The 23-year-old has seen limited time behind starting center Damian Jones in the team’s first six games. “It felt good to be out there,” Bell said. “It sucks when you’re watching the team do damage and you know you can help. But you got to understand how to be a pro and just realize some matchups aren’t right.”

Kings’ Frontcourt Logjam Worth Monitoring

The Kings are projected by most oddsmakers and NBA analysts to be the Western Conference’s worst team in 2018/19, but there are several young players on the roster who should be fun to watch. Marvin Bagley III, 2018’s second overall pick, is one of those players, while 2017 first-rounder Harry Giles, who generated buzz with his play this summer after missing his entire rookie season, is another.

However, Bagley only played 12 minutes in Sacramento’s opening-night game on Thursday, while Giles saw just 10 minutes of action. It’s certainly not unusual for rookies to have modest roles to start the season, but the Kings’ frontcourt rotation in their first game highlighted the logjam that exists at the four and five, as Jason Jones of The Athletic details.

With Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica starting at center and power forward, respectively, and Justin Jackson also playing at the four in some lineups, head coach Dave Joerger suggests it may be “tough” to find minutes for Bagley, especially since the club is thinking long-term with its top pick, Jones writes. For his part, the No. 2 overall pick said he’s “trying to stay patient” when it comes to his playing time.

“I can only control what I can control,” Bagley said after Thursday’s loss. “And whenever my number is called, I’ve just got to go hard, go 100%, and try to do whatever I can to try to help us win. I think I did all right for what I did tonight, how much time I played tonight.”

Besides Cauley-Stein, Bjelica, Jackson, Bagley, and Giles, there are a few more big men on the Kings’ roster who would like to earn some minutes up front. Skal Labissiere didn’t play in the club’s opener, and neither did veteran Zach Randolph, who wasn’t even active for the game. Throw in Kosta Koufos, who should be healthy soon after battling a hamstring injury, and you have seven or eight players vying for playing time at two positions.

In other words, there will likely be “unhappy bigs every night” in Sacramento this season, as Jones tweets.

The Kings, who don’t have serious playoff aspirations, are unlikely to address their frontcourt logjam right away, but this is a situation worth monitoring over the course of the season. At least one trade before the deadline seems likely, and vets like Randolph and Koufos could ultimately be strong buyout candidates if they’re not moved by February. Stay tuned.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Green, Cousins, Cauley-Stein

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant played a key role in bringing LeBron James to Los Angeles this summer, Sam Amick of The Athletic reveals in a new story.

Bryant, who spent his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, met with team owner Jeanie Buss in February of 2017 to deliver strong advice: Shake up the front office, start new and bring a new culture to the franchise.

“Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this s–t going on,” Bryant said, according to Amick. “It’s not going to happen. So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew. You have the new practice facility (the UCLA Health Training Center) that we’re just moving into (in the summer of 2017). We’ve got new management, and off we go. But that player is not coming here unless you do that.

“As a player, it’s like, listen, it’s a cultural thing. You’ve got to have the right culture around, especially for him at this stage of his career,” Bryant explained. “You don’t want to come to a team and deal with a bunch of bull—-, right? You don’t want to come here and be part of an organization where the walls are talking and stuff is getting out left and right and you have this camp and that camp. You don’t want to do that. So I said, ‘You’ve got to start anew.’”

Buss listened to Bryant’s advice, firing older brother Jim Buss and letting go of general manager Mitch Kupchak. In turn, the team promoted Magic Johnson to president of basketball operations and hired Rob Pelinka as new general manager. Fast forward to July of 2018, and the new-look Lakers convinced James to sign a free-agent contract.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Willie Cauley-Stein: “I’m Ready To Get Paid”

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.

[RELATED: Players Eligible For Rookie Scale Extensions In 2018]

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.

Pacific Notes: Jordan, LeBron, Harris, Cauley-Stein

The lack of teams with ample salary-cap space this summer will present a tough choice for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explains. Jordan has a player option of $24.1MM this summer and multiple league executives told O’Connor he probably wouldn’t receive an annual salary approaching that on the open market. Some of the teams that will have cap room, such as the Nets, Hawks and Sixers, aren’t looking to add a veteran center at a high salary, O’Connor continues. It’s plausible that Jordan will opt in and take his chances on the open market in 2019, O’Connor adds.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • The lack of elite, established players on their current rosters will make it tough sell for the Lakers and Clippers to land LeBron James this summer, Marc Spears of The Undefeated opines. The Lakers could sign two major free agents this summer, but the Clippers don’t have that much cap room, Spears notes. The Clippers may have hurt their cause to sign a top free agent by trading away Blake Griffin in the first year of his long-term contract, Spears adds.
  • Forward Tobias Harris has been traded three times during his career and he’s taken the latest one in stride, as he told Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. Harris was the top player acquired by the Clippers in the Griffin blockbuster. “My first trade from Milwaukee to Orlando was a situation where I just wanted to prove myself to the league,” Harris said. “When I was traded from Orlando to Detroit, it was a situation where I wanted to help the team get to the playoffs, and that’s similar to this one here, too.” 
  • Willie Cauley-Stein establishing his market value is among the storylines surrounding the Kings the remainder of the season, according to James Ham of NBCSports.com. Cauley-Stein has to emerge as the defensive stopper he was in college and improve his rebounding to earn an extension this offseason, Ham continues. The development of the De’Aaron FoxBogdan Bogdanovic backcourt and the need for Buddy Hield to become a playmaker are some of the other things to watch, Ham adds.

Kings Notes: Cauley-Stein, Giles, Draft, Bogdanovic

As losses continue to pile up for the Kings, Willie Cauley-Stein suggests that Dave Joerger run the team like a college coach, relays Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. The Kings are now 1-7 in their last eight games with a roster that features 10 players with three or fewer seasons of NBA experience.

“If you’re not doing your job right, next man up, you get your turn next time it comes around,” Cauley-Stein said. “I think it’s got to happen like that, even for myself.”

The Kings have fallen to last in the West and are third in our latest Reverse Standings.

There’s more tonight out of Sacramento:

  • The team is being careful with first-round pick Harry Giles, who has yet to play this season because of physical concerns, Jones notes in a mailbag column. Giles hasn’t practiced much in front of the media, but team sources say he has shown impressive athleticism and shooting range in controlled settings. He is also a fast learner who has picked up the game through film sessions. Jones reports that Giles’ knees are in good shape and the Kings are focused on building up his strength to start playing.
  • The Kings’ only shot at picking up a first-round pick before the trade deadline is if a contender wants to take a chance on George Hill, Jones adds in the same piece. Hill is making $20MM this season, so matching salaries would be an issue, especially since Sacramento already has a full roster. Jones thinks the Kings might make a stronger effort to acquire a first-rounder next year, when their pick will be sent to the Sixers or Celtics.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t a typical rookie, and the Kings aren’t treating him like one, Jones writes in a separate story. The Serbian shooting guard is 25 and has years of international experience, making him one of the leaders on a young team. The former draft-and-stash prospect agreed to a three-year, $27MM deal last summer. “He’s not a rookie,” Hill said. “To you guys he is, but to us, he’s a seasoned vet. He’s been battle tested and been playing high-level basketball his whole life now. He just knows how to play the game the right way. We feed off that. He plays with that edge, that grit, he just wants to win.”