Rumor: Sacramento open to trading Willie Cauley-Stein

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When Sacramento drafted Willie Cauley-Stein out of Kentucky with the No. 6, the dream was he could play next to DeMarcus Cousins to form an athletic, formidable front line.

That hasn’t worked. The two have played 17 minutes together this season, and in those minutes the team has been strong on offense but destroyed on defense. While that’s a small sample size, it correlates¬†with last season, when the two played 596 minutes together, allowed 108 points per 100 possessions when paired, and opponents outscored them by 3.7 points per 48 minutes. While Cauley-Stein has all the tools to be a great defender, it hasn’t translated to good team defense yet, and while he can fly above the rim and finish on offense outside five feet he’s not able to provide much. That said, this is a second-year player who has time to grow.

New Kings coach Dave Joerger has reduced Cauley-Stein’s role (less than 15 minutes a game), which could lead to a trade, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Keep an eye on Kings’ big man Willie Cauley-Stein. Word is Sacramento is open to moving the second-year big man, who wants more of a role than he has under new Kings coach Dave Joerger.

You get the sense there are conversations that go a lot like, “Hey, we were calling about DeMarcus,” “Have you seen our barely used Cauley-Stein?”

For the right price, a few teams might be willing to take a gamble on Cauley-Stein as a rim-protecting big, especially since he’s still on his rookie contract for a couple more seasons. However, the Kings would not get much in return, despite him being a No. 6 pick.

The other issue for Sacramento is this: If they are not going to be able to keep Cousins (whose contract is up in 2018), do they want to trade Cauley-Stein, or keep him to step into a larger role? Sacramento doesn’t want to think that way, they want to keep Cousins, but they need to have contingencies.