Willie Cauley-Stein made it clear at Kings Media Day: 'I'm ready to get paid'


Willie Cauley-Stein made it clear at Kings Media Day: 'I'm ready to get paid'

SACRAMENTO -- Media day usually is a lot of fluff and very little substance. It’s the equivalent of the first day of school. Everyone is wearing their favorite new outfit, which soon will be in the rotation and fade like every other garment in the drawer. 

Every once in a while, though, you hear something decidedly unique that stands out and becomes worthy of writing.

On Monday afternoon, Willie Cauley-Stein sat in the hot seat and bared his soul. In midseason form, the fourth-year center said exactly what was on his mind.

“I’m ready to get paid,” Cauley-Stein told NBC Sports California. “This is what we’ve got to do, that’s what type of focus I’m on.

“I’m ready for it. I’ve seen everybody else -- all my peers. All right, I’m ready for that. What do I got to do to do that? That’s what they’re doing? All right, 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.”

It’s unlikely an extension offer for the 25-year-old center is coming from the Kings. He’ll likely play out the 2018-19 season under his rookie scale deal, and if Sacramento makes a qualifying offer, he’ll become a restricted free agent. 

A strong performance from Cauley-Stein could swing his future earnings by tens of millions of dollars, be it with the Kings or another team on the open market.

“Regardless of anything, I need this, right now, to change everybody’s lives that are believing in what I’m doing,” Cauley-Stein said. “That’s money. It’s richer than money, but I just need the money to do what I really need to do.”

The buzz word around the team is that they need to see consistency from the 7-footer if they are going to break the bank for his services. It’s a word that Cauley-Stein himself brought up in conversation.

“What I expect from Willie is to be consistent,” general manager Vlade Divac told NBC Sports California. “It’s a very important year for him.”

Cauley-Stein greatly improved in his third NBA season, posting 12.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per night. He started 58 games for coach Dave Joerger and played in 73 overall. 

The numbers are solid on paper, but there were nights when Cauley-Stein starred for the Kings and others when he almost completely disappeared. 

“Consistency, that’s the word of the decade for me,” Cauley-Stein said. “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.”

Cauley-Stein said that beginning two years ago when Joerger and his staff took over the Kings, he began investing in himself, hiring a mental coach, a physical coach and a nutritionist.  

“I just let myself go to the game, mentally and physically,” Cauley-Stein said of his preparation for this season. “Consistent work and that’s what I didn’t do in the past, was just consistently working on my game. I’d work on it for a while and then relax and kind of like, forget what I’m doing.”

Sacramento is loaded on the front line and has plenty of options if Cauley-Stein stumbles. If he plays to his potential, the Kings have an estimated $60 million in salary cap space to play with next summer. 

Through three seasons, Sacramento has been patient with Cauley-Stein's development. Taken with the sixth overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, he’s been given every opportunity to figure out the pro game.

If he wants to get paid, which clearly is a motivating factor this season, he’ll need to produce each and every night he steps on the floor.

Kings set new record for 3-point makes in wild win over Timberwolves


Kings set new record for 3-point makes in wild win over Timberwolves

SACRAMENTO -- Let it fly. The Sacramento Kings run, they pass and on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center, they shot the lights out.

In a wild up and down game, the Kings hit a franchise record 19 3-pointers on 38 attempts in the team’s 141-130 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The leader in the clubhouse was Buddy Hield, who scored 20 points on 5-of-8 from long range. Nemanja Bjelica hit 4-of-9 from deep on his way to a team-high 25 points and Yogi Ferrell had a perfect 4-for-4 showing from 3-point range in 16 minutes of action.

Four other Kings players knocked triples to help the team improve to 15-12 on the season.

After Wednesday’s performance, Sacramento is the best 3-point shooting teams in the league. They hit 39.4 percent from deep, but their 28.5 attempts per game is just 25th best in the NBA.

“We play an uptempo, high-octane, fun brand of basketball,” De’Aaron Fox said. “We share the ball.”

Sacramento finished the night with 34 assists and just 11 turnovers. They moved the ball all over the court and found the open man. The Kings also set a new season-high for points in a half with 78, although they allowed Minnesota to score 80 after the intermission.

The Kings will likely need a similar offensive production on Friday evening when they host the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center. If it becomes a track meet, the team’s record books could be rewritten again.

Watch De'Aaron Fox's reaction to this insane Willie Cauley-Stein dunk

Watch De'Aaron Fox's reaction to this insane Willie Cauley-Stein dunk

Willie Cauley-Stein is a bad man, but the kind of bad that means good. Apparently, that's a thing the cool kids say.

During the Kings' 141-130 win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night, he put on a show with an insane dunk in the fourth quarter.

Check this out: 

Unfair, right? 

After Willie threw down on the T-Wolves, De'Aaron Fox, who had the assist in the play, gave such a priceless reaction:

Imagine having the skills to impress someone of Fox's caliber. 

The Kings now are hanging on to a 15-12 record and, against Minnesota, set a new franchise record when seven Kings players hit 19 from behind the arc. 

The Kings hope to continue with that confidence when they host the Warriors at Golden 1 Center on Friday at 7 p.m. PT.