SACRAMENTO -- The rumor mill is churning and once again, the Sacramento Kings are front and center. According to a national report early on Friday, the Kings have added another player to the trade block in 2015 first-round pick Willie Cauley-Stein.

“Keep an eye on Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein. Word is Sacramento is open to moving the second-year big man, who wants more of a role than he has under new Kings coach Dave Joerger,” ESPN’s Marc Stein wrote.

CSN California has learned that the Kings intend to hold onto the 23-year-old big. They regard him as one of their best defenders and they like his efficiency and energy off the bench.

[HAM: Struggling Cauley-Stein digs 'out of the hole,' takes step forward]

The 7-footer is working his way into coach Dave Joerger’s rotation. He’s averaged just 4.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. But in two games since the return of point guard Darren Collison, Cauley-Stein has posted 7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 12 minutes. 

“Just trying to figure out where you fit in with our team, we’ve got a lot of vets and I’m still young, so it’s different,” Cauley-Stein said earlier in the week. “You’ve got to try and gain everyone’s trust again with new coaches and new players.”

Joerger’s complex offensive and defensive schemes have been difficult for plenty of the players to adapt to, and Cauley-Stein is no exception. The athletic center was drafted to play in George Karl’s dribble drive motion offense after playing in a similar style at the University of Kentucky for three seasons. Joerger has put the playbook away after installing just 25-30 percent of his offensive system during training camp. 

 

The season is young and Cauley-Stein has plenty of time to earn more minutes on the Kings’ crowded frontline. For now, they intend to hold onto the sixth overall selection from last summer with the hope he can develop into a defensive stopper alongside DeMarcus Cousins.