Report: Willie Cauley-Stein Receives Qualifying Offer from Kings, Will Be RFA

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIIJune 29, 2019

Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) in the first half during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Sacramento Kings have extended a qualifying offer to Willie Cauley-Stein to make him a restricted free agent, The Athletic's Sam Amick reported Friday night.

The news comes a week after Cauley-Stein's agent, Roger Montgomery, made it clear to the Sacramento Bee's Jason Anderson that his client wanted to move on: 

"I really think Willie needs a fresh start. Based on how things have gone for him there in Sacramento, I just think it’s time for Willie to move on and we’d really like him to move on. 


"We’ve kind of hoped that things would change over the years and Willie would get a chance to expand his game, get a chance to get some consistency there in terms of the roster turnover and the coaching turnover and the things that have not been steady there. That being said, I’m hopeful they will not even give Willie his qualifying offer so Willie can be an unrestricted free agent."

The Kings seem to have different hopes for the future. 

As a restricted free agent, Cauley-Stein can begin negotiating with other teams at 6 p.m. ET Sunday and sign an offer sheet from any team during the July moratorium until July 6. Once that window is over, the Kings will be allotted 48 hours to match.

Sacramento drafted the 25-year-old center with the sixth overall pick in 2015.

Since then, the Kentucky product posted a career-high 12.8 points per game in 2017-18 and a career-high 8.4 rebounds per game last season. 

While Cauley-Stein hasn't blossomed into the player the Kings presumably envisioned when they spent a lottery pick on him, general manager Vlade Divac told Anderson the team would prefer to keep their center "in terms of his talent potential."

Should Cauley-Stein decide to take the Kings' offer, he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. His agent publicly expressing a desire to leave aside, Cauley-Stein remaining a King for one more season could benefit both sides. 

The Kings can see if Cauley-Stein is capable of producing consistently and perhaps mend their relationship, while Cauley-Stein can bump his stock heading into an unrestricted summer. 

However, the expectation is Cauley-Stein will reject the qualifier and test restricted free agency right away.

The Kings' willingness to match an offer sheet for Cauley-Stein could depend on whether they land Orlando Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent. 

Matt George @MattGeorgeKHTK

.@sam_amick confirmed to @TimMaxwell22 not long ago that Vucevic was still a target in Sacramento and that it would "likely" require the max to get the deal done. Even with the Al Horford rumors, I'd say it's becoming more and more likely that the Kings land Barnes & Vuc.

John Gambadoro @Gambo987

Sacramento has interest in Nikola Vucevic the free agent Center from Orlando. If they could lure him there might make Willie Cauley-Stein available.

Cauley-Stein has averaged 10.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists across four NBA seasons. 

The Kings, meanwhile, are trying to end a 13-season postseason hiatus, the longest active drought in the league.