Willie Cauley-Stein

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.”

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Young, Livingston, Cauley-Stein, Booker

The Lakers are in the midst of another losing season and it has taken a toll on the young team. Head coach Luke Walton held a meeting for the team instead of practice on Thursday to give players a chance to air their grievances, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. 

Last week, Lakers veteran Andrew Bogut agreed that certain players on the team are frustrated and it has impacted their performance. A lot of L.A.’s focus is on the impending free agent market, where the team is expected to pursue top-notch talent. That has left some players on the roster with less playing time and the impression that they are mere placeholders.

“There’s some frustration,” Walton said. “But there’s frustration on every team unless you win every game. Whenever you lose games, there’s frustration, people want to play more as everyone in the league should want to play more.”

Entering play on Friday, the Lakers are 11-22, 13th place in the Western Conference. Much has been made of rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma this season, and left others, such as Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, in a bind. There is a likelihood that several players on the current roster will not be there after the trade deadline, thus making the team’s future clearer.

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Warriors guard Shaun Livingston spoke to Logan Murdock of the Mercury News to discuss his role on the team, adjusting with Stephen Curry injured, and dealing with his own injury. Livingston said that Golden State expects to win even if one of their All-Star’s is out. “I think what we’ve been able to accomplish, it’s been expected to be honest with you. For us, as players, we believe in ourselves, we believe in our game,” he said.
  • In a wide-ranging interview with Marcus Thompson II of The Atheltic (subscription required and recommended), Warriors sharpshooter Nick Young discussed his adjustment to the Warriors and appreciation for life in Oakland.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein has played so well recently, the Kings are starting to see the development of the supreme talent they thought they drafted three years ago, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee relays. “These last games, I’m seeing what I was hoping for when I drafted Willie,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said. “He runs, he scores, he blocks shots, he scores in the post. He does everything. And we noticed last summer how much harder he was working. There were questions, but I don’t think so anymore. If he keeps developing like this, he will be an elite center in this league.”
  • Devin Booker, who is just 21 years old, will be a key piece of the Suns‘ future and he will have input into all of the team’s decisions, including coaching and free agency signings. Scott Bordow of the Arizona Central Sports writes that Suns general manager Ryan McDonough views Booker an important “partner in the process” of competing over the next decade.

Kings Notes: Hill, Mentoring, Cauley-Stein

The Kings own the second-worst record in the league and free agent signee George Hill isn’t happy with the team’s level of success. He sent out an emotional tweet after a recent loss to the Bucks, though he shoulders the blame for Sacramento’s woes.

“The way that we started the game, down 14-0, just didn’t sit well with me,” Hill said (via Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee). “I’m one of the leaders here, so that affected me. I felt like I let my team down.”

Sacramento’s roster is full of inexperienced players, and inconsistent play has been a staple of the team’s season so far. Hill’s never encountered this type of situation at the professional level and he acknowledged that it can be challenging.

“I think on every team I’ve been with, we’ve had that cohesiveness and a lot of veterans that played multiple years in the league, so it was easy to kind of fill in,” Hill said. “I feel like here we’re so young it’s kind of difficult to figure out what’s going to be my direction, what’s going to be my style of play, what’s this guy’s role or my role. We’re still trying to learn those things.”

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • Hill added that many of his teammates are “still babies” professionally and he knows he was brought in to help them develop, Jones writes in the same piece. “Right now we’re just trying to teach the young guys and mentor them,” Hill said. “In the long run, our whole job is try to build this for them to take over and have the keys. It’s not about me, (Vince Carter), (Garrett Temple) or any of us. It’s about how can we develop the young guys to the best of our ability.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein, who will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension after the season, has thrived since being relegated to the bench, Nate Wolf of NBAMath explains. Wolf notes that the success is driven by the team splitting Cauley-Stein and $24MM addition Zach Randolph.
  • Currently, Cauley-Stein is sidelined with a back injury, and head coach Dave Joerger said earlier this week that the team will “use caution” when it comes to bringing him back (Twitter link via Sean Cunningham of ABC10). That comment suggests that the young center’s absence may extend beyond the Kings’ two-game road trip.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Looney, Cauley-Stein

When Lonzo Ball ignored an on-court scuffle between some of his Lakers teammates and members of the Suns on Friday, the rookie took heat for not stepping into the fray to defend them. As Jordan Greer of the Sporting News writes, however, head coach Luke Walton doesn’t have any issues with how the first-year guard handled the situation.

I don’t really care about how that looks because our guys love Zo,” Walton said. “I think [the rest of the Lakers] all know what that looked like isn’t what Zo is about and isn’t symbolizing what his feelings are on that type of situation. I know the general public and the internet world likes to do what they do.

Fellow Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma went so far as to call out a double standard between Ball and other players in the NBA. “He’s my teammate and he’s very misunderstood as a person,” Kuzma said. “There’s a lot of media out there and people that expect him to be something that he’s not right now and that’s okay because he’s a rookie.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Despite the fact that his team option for next season was declined, Kevon Looney has impressed with the Warriors so far this season, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. “Obviously, it’s a tough situation to not get your option picked up. But it’s on you to do something about it, and he’s doing something about it. … The success that he’s having, I’m looking forward to him keeping it up. He’s been helping us win games,” teammate Draymond Green said.
  • In addition to learning the NBA game after years of international ball, Kings rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic is learning three positions. Combined, it’s led to a bit of learning curve, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “The basketball is really different here. A lot of athletes, the size is different as well. Those are all things that come by time, that’s part of the adjustment,” Bogdanovic said.
  • The Kings have experimented with new lineups over the course of the season, one of the latest being to move Willie Cauley-Stein to the bench and giving him an expanded role on offense. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that even though Cauley-Stein seemed to enjoy the new challenge, the club will likely continue to experiment with different personnel combinations.

Knicks Notes: LeBron, Smith Jr., Cauley-Stein, Lee

LeBron James offered an assessment of the Knicks’ draft strategy after Saturday’s game in Dallas, relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. impressed James with 21 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks. The Cavaliers star told reporters after the game that Smith “should be a Knick,” indicating that New York should have taken him instead of Frank Ntilikina, who was selected one pick earlier.

“He’s an unbelievable talent [with] athleticism,” said James. “He’s very poised to be his age, can shoot the ball, penetrate. He’s only going to get better and better with the opportunity that he’s getting here. Dallas got a good one. I’ve been knowing that. I’ve been with him for so long now. I’ve been knowing his talent level.”

James is sure to be asked to expand on those comments when the Cavaliers visit Madison Square Garden Monday. MacMahon suggests the statements were part of a long-running feud with former Knicks president Phil Jackson, who angered James last year by using the word “posse” to describe his associates. The Knicks came to Ntilikina’s defense, with Enes Kanter tweeting, “Nope!! We love what we got…Thanks!!!”

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • The Knicks received a better draft grade from Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein, who told Howie Kussoy of The New York Post that the organization made the right decision in 2015 when it passed on him to select Kristaps Porzingis. Cauley-Stein was labeled as the best defensive big man in the draft and had a pre-draft workout for the Knicks. The team opted for Porzingis at No. 4, and Cauley-Stein went to Sacramento two picks later. “I thought I had a pretty good chance of coming here, but they ended up picking the right guy,” Cauley-Stein said. “This league’s all about situations. I went to a situation where I’m playing behind the best center in the league [DeMarcus Cousins], or I could’ve gone to somewhere where they don’t have a guy, and now you’re the guy, and you’re getting all the touches. That helps a lot.”
  • Coach Jeff Hornacek has wanted Courtney Lee to shoot more often since he signed with the team in the summer of 2016, Kussoy writes in a separate story. The 10-year veteran posted a 20-point performance Saturday night and is making a case to be the team’s second option. “He shot the shots he was supposed to,” Hornacek said. “He didn’t need to be wide open. He’s a great shooter. He can shoot it with guys in his face. That helps spread the court.”
  • Hornacek is an overlooked factor in the Knicks’ 7-5 start, according to Ian Begley of ESPN. He has the team sharing the ball, improving from 23rd to seventh in assist ratio, and working together on defense. “I think he’s done a great job,” said Jarrett Jack, who became a starter after New York lost its first three games. “I know for me, as someone who always has to be a kind of extension of the coach, me and him have been able to kind to develop a relationship where I can kind of read what he wants on the court and I can kind of relay it to the guys.” 

Kings Exercise 2018/19 Options On Five Players

The Kings have picked up 2018/19 rookie scale options on five players, the team announced today in a press release. The moves will add about $14MM in guaranteed salary to Sacramento’s books for the ’18/19 season. Here are the options exercised by the club in advance of today’s deadline:

None of these decisions comes as a real surprise. With the exception of Hield – who was the centerpiece in the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans – all of these players were drafted by Vlade Divac and the current Kings management group.

Cauley-Stein, the only player of the bunch whose 2018/19 option is on the fourth year of his rookie contract, will be eligible for a contract extension during the ’18 offseason, and will reach restricted free agency in the summer of ’19 if he’s not extended next year. The other four players are on track to be RFAs in 2020 if their fourth-year options are picked up next offseason.

All of this year’s rookie scale team option decisions can be tracked right here.

Pacific Notes: Beverley, Bogdanovic, Cauley-Stein, Lakers

Patrick Beverley has earned the reputation of a defensive pest who can get under the skin of his opponents and the Clippers are glad he is on their side, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

Beverley has the unenviable task of being one of many reinforcements for a departed Chris PaulDespite the lofty expectations, Beverley’s defense and overall demeanor through his first few preseason contests have made him popular with teammates but not changed his approach.

“I try to set the tone defensively,” Beverley said. “That helps the rest of our team. I understand I have DJ [DeAndre Jordan], but I don’t want to rely on him too much. At the same time, I want to be able to still do my thing within the defense.”

Last season, Beverley averaged 9.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG for the Rockets last season. If he replicates the on-court performance and retains his outspoken style, the Clippers should be set at the position, according to his coaches and teammates.

Below you can find other news coming out of the Pacific Division:

  • Willie Cauley-Stein is entering his third NBA season at a time when third-year players are expected to develop into mainstays. However, a tumultuous period in Sacramento with roster, coaching, and front office turnover will make it a possibly difficult adjustment for Cauley-Stein, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic has spent limited time in the United States but he cannot contain the excitement for his NBA opportunity with the Kings, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee details.
  • The Lakers have hired Jason Rosenfeld as Director of Basketball Analytics, according to the team. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) noted, the Lakers’ signing of Rosenfeld is crucial as the team has been criticized for its lack of analytics use.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Ball, Warriors, Jordan

The decision to remove DeMarcus Cousins from the equation has brought a sense of happiness and hope around the moribund Kings franchise, Nick Zappulla of RealGM opines. The pieces are now in place for a quick turnaround via the acquisition of Buddy Hield in the trade with the Pelicans along with four promising rookies taken in the draft, particularly floor leader De’Aaron Fox and forward Harry Giles, Zappulla continues. Big men Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein showed progress once Cousins was removed from the picture and the club also brought in three veteran free agents to facilitate the development of the young players, Zappulla adds.

In other items regarding the Pacific Division:

  • The league’s television partners certainly have Lonzo Ball fever, as evidenced by the Lakers’ 35 nationally-televised games next season, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register notes. That’s the fifth-most national broadcasts among all teams despite the franchise coming off a 26-win season. Much of it can be attributed to lottery pick Ball, both for his passing skills and the hype-man routine of his father LaVar, Oram adds.
  • The Warriors’ center rotation is unlikely to change next season despite the presence of some promising young players at the back end, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Zaza Pachulia will continue to start with JaVale McGee backing him up and David West getting minutes there at the start of second quarters, according to Slater. Damian Jones, who was inconsistent in summer-league play, or rookie Jordan Bell could force their way into the rotation at some point, Slater adds.
  • Center DeAndre Jordan realizes the Clippers won’t be the same team without Chris Paul, but expects point guard additions Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic to keep the franchise among the best in the West, Jovan Buha of ESPN.com reports. “Those guys are going to come in and play their style of basketball, and it’s going to be fun,” Jordan told Buha.

Western Rumors: Ginobili, Kings, Evans, Jazz

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili still hasn’t decided whether he’ll retire, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News relays via an interview with Ginobili’s brother conducted by NBA Para Todos. Sepo Ginobili said Manu is trying to decide whether he can still be effective player at age 40, a birthday he’ll reach on July 28. “If he can help and be useful to the team, he will continue,” Sepo said. Manu offered a vague timetable after the Spurs were swept by the Warriors in the Westen Conference finals, saying he would take “three weeks, four weeks, whatever” before he would make a final decision, Orsborn adds.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Despite dealing DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline, the Kings do not have a need at center as the draft approaches, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. The Kings, who have the No. 5 and 10 picks  in the first round, drafted Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis in the first round the past two seasons. They also have a solid veteran in Kosta Koufos on the roster but Cauley-Stein ought to be the starter next season, Jones continues. Cauley-Stein averaged 12.9 PPG and 8.1 RPG after the Cousins trade and can be the key to their interior defense, Jones adds.
  • Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans could fill the Thunder’s need for a backup point, John Helsley of The Oklahoman writes. The Thunder hold the No. 21 overall pick and Evans excels in pick-and-rolls, though he lacks size and isn’t particularly atheltic, Helsley continues. Originally viewed as a second-round pick, Evans has moved into the first round in many mock drafts, Helsley adds.
  • Uncertainty over how free agency will play out complicates the Jazz’s draft decisions, as Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune explains. Small forward Gordon Hayward, point guard George Hill and shooting guard Joe Ingles will be on the market in July but the Jazz won’t know if they need to replace them. GM Dennis Lindsey believes the NBA should change that, as he told Jones. “I — and many league executives — would prefer free agency come before the draft,” Lindsey said. “Free agency both fills voids and creates holes, so I think we’d like some clarity before the draft.” Utah has two late first-rounders at No. 24 and 30.