Willie Cauley-Stein

Injury Notes: Doncic, Isaac, Holmes, Bowman

While Mavericks guard Luka Doncic seems to be over the ankle issues that bothered him earlier in the season, he’s missing Sunday’s game vs. Minnesota with a new injury — a left thumb sprain. Doncic played through the injury on Friday, but struggled to work around it, per an ESPN report.

“I didn’t know how important the thumb was to hold the ball,” Doncic said on Friday. “It was tough. … I wasn’t myself today. Just have to learn from that and move on.”

Head coach Rick Carlisle said that he’s not sure about Doncic’s status for Monday’s game against Chicago.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Although Jonathan Isaac has started doing some rehab work with the Magic, there’s only an outside chance of him playing this spring, according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, who says that Isaac’s knee injury is still expected to keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
  • Kings center Richaun Holmes, who hasn’t played since January 6 due to a shoulder injury, is getting closer to being able to take full contact, and hopes to resume practicing with the team this week, the team announced today in a press release.
  • Warriors guard Ky Bowman, who is currently on the shelf with a sprained right ankle, will be monitored for the next few days before the team provides another update, per a press release.
  • It’s not an injury, but Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein is missing his fourth consecutive game for personal reasons today. According to Dwain Price of Mavs.com (Twitter link), Rick Carlisle expects the big man to return to Dallas’ active roster on Monday. We’ll try to get him prepared to play some minutes if needed tomorrow,” the Mavs’ head coach said of Cauley-Stein.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Southwest 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 take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Ben McLemore, Rockets, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4.3MM deal in 2019
If you’re in the same backcourt as James Harden and Russell Westbrook, you’re not going to have many opportunities to shoot. And when you do, you’d better make them. McLemore is making them. In his last three games, McLemore has averaged 13.3 PPG and knocked down 11 of 18 3-point attempts. Houston has shuffled its roster over the past month but as long as McLemore remains a perimeter threat, he’ll remain in the rotation. Houston needs to guarantee his modest $2.28MM salary for next season prior to free agency. It will be a surprise if the Rockets turn down that bargain.

Jordan Bell, Grizzlies, 25, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.62MM deal in 2019
Bell wasn’t much of a factor with Minnesota this season, even when Karl-Anthony Towns missed some games due to injury or suspension. He got traded to Houston, which quickly flipped him to Memphis for Bruno Caboclo. Bell has only appeared in two games with the Grizzlies but there is a glimmer of hope. With injuries to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke depleting the frontcourt, Bell could get an extended look in the next couple of weeks. He’ll have to show a lot more than he did in Minnesota in order for Memphis to extend a qualifying offer, which would make him a restricted free agent.

Jahlil Okafor, Pelicans, 24, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.27MM deal in 2018
When the Pelicans were shorthanded last month in Detroit, Okafor erupted for 25 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. He never left the bench the next four games, which shows how little he figures in the organization’s plans. Okafor has played a total of 25 minutes since that game against the Pistons. Once Zion Williamson got healthy, Okafor’s already spotty playing time virtually evaporated. His ability to score in the low post has lost much of its value since he was taken with the third pick in the 2015 draft. He’ll be seeking another second-unit opportunity this summer.

Bryn Forbes, Spurs, 26, PG (Up) – Signed to two-year, $6MM deal in 2018
Undrafted despite playing for a major college (Michigan State), Forbes has fit well with the blue-collar Spurs. After Danny Green was traded during the 2018 offseason, Forbes became a starter in his third year in the league. He’s held onto that role this season and continues to provide a perimeter option on a team lacking in that area. Forbes has been on fire this month, draining 47.4% of his 3-point attempts. Forbes will enter unrestricted free agency this summer and should get a nice raise and a multiyear deal, perhaps without changing uniforms.

Willie Cauley-Stein, 27, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4.46MM deal in 2019
When Dwight Powell suffered a season-ending Achilles tear late last month, the Mavericks opted to trade with Golden State for Cauley-Stein. It seemed like a great opportunity for Cauley-Stein to pump up his value on a playoff contender. It hasn’t worked out that way. Cauley-Stein’s role has been limited since joining the Mavericks and he hasn’t played since the All-Star break due to undisclosed personal reasons. It’s a good thing for WCS that he has a $2.29MM option on his contract for next season. It should come in handy the way things are trending.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mavs Notes: Cauley-Stein, Broekhoff, Cash, Green

The Mavericks officially acquired Willie Cauley-Stein from the Warriors yesterday, but it’s not clear when he’ll start playing, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Cauley-Stein will report to the team today in Oklahoma City, but probably not in time for an afternoon practice. He may see a few minutes Monday against the Thunder or Tuesday against the Suns, but coach Rick Carlisle isn’t committing to either game.

“We’ll give him the crash course and try to simplify things for him initially, get him going and see where we are,” Carlisle said.

Forward Ryan Broekhoff could return tomorrow from a fractured left fibula, which lessens the need to use Cauley-Stein before he becomes familiar with the playbook. Carlisle said he spoke with his new center, who is excited to be joining the team.

“We think he’s a guy that has some really unique abilities,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to get him integrated and get him ready. He’s a rim-protector. He’s a rim-roller. His rebounding is good. We feel there’s areas that he can get better. I talked to him a little bit about those things. We’ll coach him hard, and with a lot of respect, and we’ll see where we can help his game go from here.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • The Mavericks received an A-minus grade on the deal from Sam Quinn of CBS Sports, who notes that Cauley-Stein is an above-average pick-and-roll threat who will benefit from a chance to play alongside Luka Doncic. He adds that Cauley-Stein is a better rebounder than Dwight Powell, who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury this week.
  • Dallas received $800K in cash from the Thunder in a separate deal that sent Isaiah Roby to Oklahoma City in exchange for Justin Patton, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Patton was waived to open a roster spot for Cauley-Stein.
  • Danny Green talked to ESPN’s Zach Lowe on The Lowe Post podcast this week about the Mavericks’ pursuit of him in free agency over the summer. Green signed a two-year, $30MM deal with the Lakers, but said if L.A. would have used that money to sign Kawhi Leonard, then Dallas would have been his next choice.

Mavs Acquire Willie Cauley-Stein From Warriors

JANUARY 25: The trade for Cauley-Stein is official, according to the Mavericks’ PR account (Twitter link). As expected, the team has waived Patton to open up the roster spot necessary to complete the deal.

JANUARY 24: The Mavericks are finalizing a deal to acquire center Willie Cauley-Stein from the Warriors, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Golden State will receive a 2020 second-rounder from the Jazz, which Utah owed to Dallas, in return for the big man, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The Warriors don’t own their own second-rounders from 2020-26 except for the 2022 draft, so this gives them another asset, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

The Mavericks will open up a roster spot once they complete a trade agreed upon with the Thunder in which they’ll receive center Justin Patton for forward Isaiah Roby and then waive Patton.

Dallas is using its $11.7MM trade exception to acquire Cauley-Stein acquired in the Harrison Barnes deal with the Kings last season. It’s needed since Cauley-Stein was signed with part of the non-tax mid-level exception, according to Marks (Twitter link). Golden State will get a $2.17MM trade exception out of the deal.

Dallas was seeking a rotation player to replace Dwight Powell, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Cauley-Stein, who is making $2.18MM this season and holds a $2.29MM option on his contract for next season, fits that role at a modest cost. He’s averaging 7.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 1.2 BPG in 23.0 MPG for the Warriors.

The Warriors have plenty of monetary reasons to make this deal. The deal will save them $5.66MM on their luxury-tax bill, dropping it to $9.3MM, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Golden State, which will have two roster openings once the deal is completed, will also drop $2.57MM below the hard cap. The team will have two weeks to get back up to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players.

Mavs Notes: Porzingis, Noah, Powell Replacements, Trade Options

Kristaps Porzingis could see a lot more action at center the remainder of the season, according to Eddie Sefko of the team’s website. The Mavericks need to replace the minutes of Dwight Powell, who is out for the season with a ruptured right Achilles. When paired with Maxi Kleber, Porzingis can play either center or power forward. Porzingis can utilize his playmaking skills from the middle, as he did for a stretch against the Clippers on Tuesday.

“We’ve done it some,” coach Rick Carlisle said while adding, “The bind you get in is with rebounding and that was obvious in the second half. We were really up against it on the boards. … But in terms of the lineup and everything else, there’s a lot of things we’ve got to keep on the table.”

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • The Mavs’ front office has made contact with free agent center Joakim Noah, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. However, the team has concerns about Noah’s health and is also looking at overseas and G League options, MacMahon adds. Noah, 34, appeared in 34 games with the Grizzlies last season. Dallas would have to open up a roster spot to bring in a free agent.
  • Washington’s Ian Mahinmi, Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng and Golden State’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson are some of the trade options the team could pursue in the wake of Powell’s injury, Sefko writes in a separate piece.  Rookie Isaiah Roby and Justin Jackson could also pick up some of those minutes, Sefko adds, and the Mavs might pursue another G League option, Ray Spalding, of the Greensboro Swarm, who was on Dallas’ roster for part of last season.
  • Even before Powell’s injury, the team was perusing the trade market for players with size who can score 15 points a game, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link). “They have assets. They have a trade exception, they have Courtney Lee, who’s a contract that can be traded. Watch out for them,” Windhorst said.
  • The Mavs have two trade exceptions available to utilize prior to February’s deadline, including one worth over $11.8MM. Check out the list of all trade exceptions here.

Warriors Willing To Trade Alec Burks, Other Veterans

Shooting guard Alec Burks is among several players the Warriors are willing to part with before the February 6 trade deadline, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole suggests Golden State could be one of the most active teams on the trade market after virtually ignoring it during the past five years.

He identifies Burks as the most coveted of the Warriors’ assets because he can stretch defenses and has an affordable contract at $2.3MM. Burks is averaging 15.5 PPG through 30 games and shooting 34.9% from 3-point range.

Poole names the Lakers, Mavericks, Clippers, Pacers and Raptors as teams that could use another wing player who can shoot from the outside. He states that the Warriors will be looking for future assets such as draft picks and young players.

Although Golden State’s front office likes Burks, they need to open up roster spots soon to keep two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman, who are both nearing their 45-day NBA limit. Lee has 12 days remaining and Bowman has 11. After that, they will have to have their contracts converted to NBA deals or remain in the G League until that season is over.

“It’s an awkward situation for us, because Ky and Damion are coming up on their limit,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Friday’s game. “And they’re two of our top seven players in our rotation. And yet the rules are that we only have them for another nine or 10 days each. Everybody is aware of that. We don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

Several league sources told Poole that the Warriors are ready to move into serious trade discussions. They added several veterans over the summer on contracts that they believed would be easy to move when the time came.

Those include Glenn Robinson III at $1.9MM, Marquese Chriss at a non-guaranteed $1.7MM and Willie Cauley-Stein at $2.2MM with a $2.3MM player option for next season. They also traded for Omari Spellman, who makes $1.9MM this year, and picked up his option for 2020/21 at nearly $2MM.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Even as the Warriors have fallen off a cliff this season due to injuries and offseason roster changes, the Pacific has remained one of the more competitive divisions in basketball.

The Lakers and Clippers are among the NBA’s best teams and look like legit championship contenders. The Suns and Kings aren’t in that tier, but they’re currently neck-and-neck for the No. 8 seed in the West. It’s possible there could be as many as four buyers in the division at the trade deadline.

After having initially looked last month at three potential trade candidates in the Pacific, we’re singling out three more today. Let’s dive in…

Trevor Ariza, F
Sacramento Kings
$12.2MM cap hit; $1.8MM of $12.8MM salary guaranteed for 2020/21

Ariza has bounced around the league since leaving Houston during the 2018 offseason, playing for the Suns, Wizards, and Kings since then. None of those teams has been a perfect fit for the veteran forward, who has only logged 32 total minutes for Sacramento since November 8 due to a combination of personal reasons, a groin injury, and general ineffectiveness.

The Kings will have a crowded frontcourt rotation when Marvin Bagley III returns, so it’s unclear whether or not Ariza will have an opportunity to play regular, consistent minutes all season. That could make him expendable.

Since Sacramento is a young team pushing for a playoff team, the front office may decide it’s worth keeping Ariza around for his veteran leadership and for depth purposes — especially if he continues his up-and-down play and doesn’t have much value on the trade market. But it’s not a lock that he’s still on the Kings’ roster by February 7.

Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Golden State Warriors
$2.2MM cap hit; $2.3MM player option for 2020/21

Cauley-Stein could have received a more lucrative deal with another team, but opted to join the Warriors for a chance to play with a contender. Unfortunately, that plan has backfired, as Golden State’s 4-18 record puts the club in the running for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, not a title.

In addition to being a down year for the Warriors, it’s been a bit of a slow start for Cauley-Stein, whose scoring average is down to just 7.5 PPG. Still, he has started 18 games at center for the Warriors and is blocking a career-best 1.2 shots per contest. No contender would target him as a potential starter, but he could have some value as a backup option.

If the Warriors believe Cauley-Stein will likely opt out at season’s end and return to the open market, it makes sense to see if they can get anything for him this season. His minimum-salary contract can be dealt without taking any salary back and he could be replaced with a smaller minimum-salary cap hit, freeing up some much-needed flexibility for the Dubs under their hard cap.

Maurice Harkless, F
Los Angeles Clippers
$11MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Harkless, acquired by the Clippers in one of my favorite moves of the summer, has been starting games and playing consistent minutes for a title contender despite being viewed as a salary dump five months ago. It’s still hard to believe that the Clips were able to acquire a first-round pick in the deal that netted them Harkless, who is shooting a career-best 51.0% with a 37.9% three-point rate so far.

As a reliable three-and-D option for the Clippers, Harkless probably isn’t on the trade block. However, he’s also the only mid-level type player on the roster who would realistically be expendable if L.A. wanted to acquire another piece.

Lou Williams ($8MM) and Montrezl Harrell ($6MM) aren’t going anywhere, and it seems relatively safe to assume Patrick Beverley ($12.3MM) and Ivica Zubac ($6.5MM) aren’t either. That leaves Harkless as the only other player on the books with a cap hit between $5MM and 32MM. Throw in the fact that he’s on an expiring contract and he’s the most logical salary-matching piece the Clippers have.

Of course, there’s a decent chance the Clippers simply stand pat at the deadline and hope that possible reinforcements emerge in the following weeks on the buyout market. In that scenario, Harkless is a good bet to finish the season with the club.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hollinger’s Latest: Blazers, Warriors, Load Management

There hasn’t been an NBA trade since mid-July but the Trail Blazers appear to be a prime candidate to make a deal, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Zach Collins‘ shoulder injury, which is expected to cost him most of the season, creates an even bigger need at an already thin position. Journeyman Anthony Tolliver is the only true power forward remaining on the roster, Hollinger notes. The Blazers could also use another small forward in their rotation.

Portland has some desirable assets, including expiring contracts, young players and draft picks, in order to upgrade its forward spots. One offshoot of the Collins injury that the Blazers are playing with smaller, faster lineups and that could prove beneficial.

There’s more from Hollinger:

  • The Warriors may trade one of their free agent additions on expiring contracts in order to add one of their two-way players to the 15-man roster. Golden State is pushed up against the hard cap and could free some money by dealing center Willie Cauley-Stein or guard Alec Burks. Any potential deal involving a free agent signed this summer can’t happen until mid-December.
  • Waiving Marquese Chriss‘ non-guaranteed deal is also a strong possibility for Golden State, considering Chriss has already had his role reduced after a strong preseason. The Warriors have already used up eight of the 45 days on the service clock of two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman and can’t convert either to a standard contract unless they make another move.
  • People who criticize load management fail to realize that the modern game is much more taxing on players’ bodies than in past decades, Hollinger writes. The goal is to maximize the number of high-quality games the player can play and that makes it a sound strategy.

Warriors Notes: Future, Russell, Green, Looney

No matter how poorly this season turns out for the Warriors, the franchise is in good position for the future, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Golden State has seen a nightmarish run of injuries dating back to last year’s NBA Finals, and while none of the currently active players were on the roster last season, the situation gives the front office time to assess what they have before trying to jump back into title contention in 2020/21.

Windhorst notes that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all in the prime of their careers and are under long-term contracts. In addition, the first-round pick the Warriors owe Brooklyn in 2020 is top-20 protected and seems in no danger of conveying. It could wind up high in the lottery and provide another building block for the future. Also, Golden State holds a $17MM trade exception from the Andre Iguodala deal that doesn’t expire until July 7, and the franchise has the top source of revenue in the league thanks to a new arena.

The team also has a prime trade asset in D’Angelo Russell, who becomes eligible to be dealt on December 15. Windhorst believes the Warriors can get another first-round pick and at least a role player for Russell, who is in position to be showcased once he returns from an ankle injury. He adds that if no deal can be reached by the trade deadline, Russell should keep his trade value for the summer.

Willie Cauley-Stein and Alec Burks, who signed with Golden State expecting to be part of a playoff team, suddenly look like valuable trade assets as well, Windhorst adds.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Golden State started three rookies for the third consecutive game tonight, and coach Steve Kerr told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that the immediate focus will be on player development. “While we have guys out, we have to try to bring along our young players, help them develop and give them every opportunity to develop into rotation players, maybe even starters,” Kerr said. “If we can do that, that makes this a successful season or half season, however long it is. And we have a leg up when guys get healthy again.”
  • Green, who has a torn ligament in his left index finger, didn’t accompany the team on its current road trip, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He won’t return to action until Monday at the earliest.
  • The Warriors are encouraged by the latest tests on Kevon Looney, who is undergoing treatment for a neuropathic condition, Slater adds (Twitter link). The team believes he will be able to play again this season, but he has been ruled out for the next two weeks.

Southeast Notes: Cauley-Stein, Hornets, Hawks, Magic

In an interesting, in-depth profile of Willie Cauley-Stein for The San Francisco Chronicle, Connor Letourneau notes that the Hornets presented the free agent big man with a $9MM offer during the summer before he opted to sign a minimum-salary contract with the Warriors.

Letourneau mentions the Hornets’ offer in passing and doesn’t provide any additional details on the timing or structure. Charlotte had its full mid-level exception available this offseason and theoretically could have offered Cauley-Stein $9MM for one year, or per year, though it would be surprising if he turned down such a proposal. A two-year deal in that range seems more realistic, but that’s just my speculation.

Either way, Cauley-Stein passed on the offer, which has helped open the door for Cody Zeller to take on a more prominent role in the Hornets’ frontcourt. As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes, Zeller has suddenly become a cornerstone for the franchise, averaging career highs in PPG (12.8) and RPG (10.5) so far this season. After missing 82 games over the last two years, Zeller says he feels great, while James Borrego suggests the big man is crucial to Charlotte’s offensive attack.

“We want to play through him,” the Hornets’ head coach said. “Cody allows us to play a number of ways, especially with pace. He’s a great runner. He starts our offense in transition. And he has to play-make for us — on and off the ball. He’s been primarily a screener over the years. Right now, I want the ball in his hands at the top of the (key) in DHO (dribble-handoffs).”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In the wake of John Collins‘ 25-game suspension, Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk issued a statement saying the team believes that the big man “is truly remorseful for his actions.” Meanwhile, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic explores what the suspension means for the Hawks, who will start Jabari Parker in Collins’ place.
  • A strong second-half run buoyed the Magic into a playoff spot last season, but they haven’t been able to carry that momentum over to the start of the 2019/20 campaign so far. John Hollinger of The Athletic digs into what’s next for Orlando as the team tries to increase its ceiling.
  • Wizards guard Jordan McRae, who broke his finger on opening night last month, is anxious to return, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post relays (Twitter links). I’d like to play tonight. I think I’m ready,” McRae said. “… I can’t wait six weeks. It’s a finger, I mean, granted, it is broken, but… I feel like I owe it to my team to play through a little pain.”