Willie Cauley-Stein on Potential Contract Extension: 'I'm Ready to Get Paid'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2018

Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

As he heads into the final year of his rookie deal, Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein is hoping to achieve one thing. 

"I'm ready to get paid," he said Tuesday during the Kings' media day, per James Ham of 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. Alright, I'm ready for that. What do I got to do to do that? That's what they're doing? Alright, I'm going to go ahead and do this now."

Cauley-Stein can become a restricted free agent following the 2018-19 season should the Kings extend him a $6.2 million qualifying offer.

The 25-year-old averaged 12.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in 2017-18, both of which were career highs. However, his .502 field-goal percentage and .619 free-throw percentage were career worsts.

The fourth-year big man held opponents to a respectable 58.9 percent shooting inside six feet, per NBA.com, but he's not such a great rim protector that it outweighs his limited offensive game. While Cauley-Stein made an effort to extend his range—attempting 12 three-pointers—75.1 percent of his shot attempts were less than 10 feet from the basket, according to NBA.com.

Compounding matters for Cauley-Stein, he'll hit the free-agent market at a time when teams will have plenty of options at the center position.

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Karl-Anthony Towns confirmed he signed a five-year extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Myles Turner is a restricted free agent as well. Even after removing those two from the equation, teams will still have the chance to sign any one of Al Horford, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, Jonas Valanciunas, Dwight Howard or Nikola Vucevic.

All of those players are either restricted free agents in 2019 or can opt out of their contracts next summer, and all of them arguably have a stronger body of work than Cauley-Stein.

If Cauley-Stein wants to position himself for a massive payday in the summer of 2019, then he'll need to put together a season that far surpasses what he has done so far in the NBA.

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