Even as a rookie, Willie Cauley-Stein had become a valuable piece for the Sacramento Kings — they outscore opponents by 3.6 points per 100 possessions when he plays, their defense improves, all of which is why George Karl had moved him into the starting lineup next to DeMarcus Cousins.
Now they will have to do without him through the first of the year at least.
Cauley-Stein suffered a dislocation of his right index finger in the final minute of the game in Mexico City Thursday, and with that will be out 4-6 weeks, the Kings announced Friday night. It’s nothing truly serious, but it will keep him in street clothes for a while.
The injury occurred in what was a rough night for Sacramento as Boston easily handled them, jumping out to a 32-15 first quarter lead and never looking back. Rajon Rondo was ejected, and DeMarcus Cousins shot 4-of-17 on the night. It was one of the Kings’ worst games of the season; it’s not the kind of performance you expect from playoff teams (and the Kings think they can climb back into that mix in the West with Cousins healthy). The Cauley-Stein injury just added to it all.
It will be interesting to see if George Karl goes big with Kosta Koufos or more to the small ball lineups with Omri Casspi to replace Cauley-Stein. It’s Karl, so you’d think small, but in a recent meeting both Rondo and Cousins talked to Karl about slowing the pace down for the Kings.