Willie Cauley-Stein gets fresh start with Warriors after Kings tenure

Willie Cauley-Stein gets fresh start with Warriors after Kings tenure

SACRAMENTO -- The Willie Cauley-Stein saga took an interesting turn Tuesday afternoon when the unrestricted free agent center agreed to a reported small, one-year contract to join the Golden State Warriors, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole.

After four years in Sacramento, the 25-year-old center is getting a fresh start. That might be just what everyone involved needed.

Taken with the No. 6 overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, the 7-footer out of Kentucky never lived up to his potential with Sacramento. Some of that was due to the franchise’s instability when he was drafted, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

After declaring that he was “ready to get paid” during media day last September, Cauley-Stein got off to a quick start in Sacramento. But by Christmas, his play had regressed back to the mean.

Cauley-Stein showed improvement in some areas during his fourth NBA season, posting 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. The rebound number was a career-high and the assist total matched his best season as a professional.

But the wild inconsistency and his reluctance to act as a rim protector hurt his value in Sacramento and apparently around the league.

Versatile enough to guard multiple positions and athletic enough to be an elite rebounder, Cauley-Stein has the tools to be a successful modern NBA center. His talent has never been in question.

He’s coming off a season where he started 81 games for the Kings and now, he instantly helps fill a void in the Warriors roster that is severely depleted after the loss of Kevin Durant free agency, a long term injury to Klay Thompson and a trade that sent veteran Andre Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies.

With Cauley-Stein in the fold, the Warriors likely are moving away from another former King in DeMarcus Cousins. The former All-Star is an unrestricted free agent after playing 30 games for Golden State last season.

Meanwhile, to fill the Kings' void at the center position, Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac pivoted in a new direction during the opening hours of free agency. He added former Hawks big man Dewayne Dedmon on a 3-year, $41 million contract and then backed that up with a super-athlete in Richaun Holmes.

Dedmon, 29, played a similar style to Cauley-Stein last season in the Hawks uptempo offense, although he averaged nearly twice as many blocks and can stretch the defense with his perimeter shooting.

Holmes plays hard and like Dedmon, he acts as a rim protector and energy big.

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The new additions will fight for time with second-year big man Harry Giles at the center position. It’s a deep group that should give head coach Luke Walton versatility and plenty of energy.

For Cauley-Stein, he gets a fresh start with a team in flux. Whether he can fulfill his enormous potential is a question the Kings were no longer willing to ponder after four seasons of investment.

Five things to watch when Kings got first win of season on buzzer beater

Five things to watch when Kings got first win of season on buzzer beater

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the Utah Jazz from Nov. 1, 2019 tonight at 3 PT on NBC Sports California.

NBC Sports California is bringing fans some of the best games from the last few seasons in their re-airing of instant classics. With the NBA season on hold, it's the closest thing fans can get to watching live action. 

In our 10th installment, we go back to the Kings' first win of the 2019-20 season when they snapped a five-game losing streak to open the season with an upset victory over the Utah Jazz.

While we know the final outcome, sometimes the nuances of the win are lost with time. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 102-101 win over the Jazz at Golden 1 Center.

The winner

With 6.5 seconds remaining, Nemanja Bjelica fielded a pass from a cutting De’Aaron Fox and lined up a clean look from the corner. The ball caught iron, but Harrison Barnes crashed the glass, read the spin and was there for the putback with two seconds remaining on the clock to give Sacramento the one-point advantage.

The Kings held on the defensive end to come away with an improbable victory over a very good Jazz team. Barnes finished with a modest 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, but his shot got the Kings in the win column for the first time during the 2019-20 season.

“I’ve had a few game-winners throughout my career, whether it’s been high school, college, pro,” Barnes told NBC Sports California. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but hopefully either the rest of this season or next season, I can build on that.”

Fox shines

This is Fox’s team and he started to show it early in the season. Against fellow 2017 draftee Donovan Mitchell, Fox came out in attack mode, scoring 11 points in the first quarter.

Fox continued to dominate the action throughout the game, finishing with a game-high 25 points.  

Fox shot 8-of-17 from the field and went to the free throw line for 12 of the Kings’ 17 attempts on the night.

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Buddy struggles from deep

Buddy Hield has become one of the most reliable 3-point shooters in the NBA throughout his three-plus seasons. Against the Jazz, he went cold from the perimeter, but made adjustments to his game.

Hield missed all five of his 3-point attempts, but he still managed to score 18 points on 9-of-16 shooting. This was the only time through the Kings’ first 64 games that Hield failed to register a made triple.

Holmes gets comfortable

In just his second start of the season, Richaun Holmes began to settle in with the first team. He and Bjelica instantly found chemistry which led to multiple highlight reel alley-oops. 

The Kings invested heavily in Dewayne Dedmon during the summer. Holmes not only stole his job, but made Dedmon completely expendable.

This wasn’t one of his best performances, but Holmes held his own against Rudy Gobert and he came up huge on the defensive end on the final sequence.


Following the shot by Barnes, the Jazz had one more opportunity to win the game. With two seconds remaining, Mike Conley tossed the inbounds pass to Mitchell who played off a Gobert screen.

Holmes took Mitchell on the switch and gave the guard a small bump. Mitchell continued his dribble, hit Homes with a pump fake and hoisted a 23-footer that came up short.

Following the game, Mitchell claimed that he was fouled on the final possession and should have gone to the line with a chance to win the game. 

The following day, the NBA sided with the Kings on the Two Minute report, stating, “Holmes (SAC) makes marginal contact with Mitchell (UTA) that does not affect his SQBR (Speed, Quickness, Balance, Rhythm).”

Kings guard Kyle Guy reveals his grandfather died from coronavirus


Kings guard Kyle Guy reveals his grandfather died from coronavirus

The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forever changed Kyle Guy's family.

The Kings' second-round draft pick revealed Saturday that his grandfather died Friday night after contracting the virus.

"When I was 7 or 8 my grandpa had me sign a piece of paper saying he’d be my manager (jokingly) if I ever made it to the NBA 😂 something as small as that was always on my mind while I tried to make that dream come true. I know he’s up there waiting for his cut lmao.. and one day, I’ll give it to him ❤️," Guy wrote on Instagram.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 277,205 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and 6,593 deaths in the country.

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Guy, who grew up in Indianapolis and went to school at the University of Virginia, signed a two-way contract with the Kings in July.