Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein: ‘I’m ready to get paid’

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Larry Bird told Willie Cauley-Stein, before the Kings drafted the center, Cauley-Stein would be worth $100 million.

After an uneven few years in Sacramento, Cauley-Stein still wants to cash in.

Cauley-Stein, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“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.”

“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 later clarified those remarks. Sean Cunningham of ABC10:

Cauley-Stein:

I think that got put out of context a little bit. It made it look like I was just worried about this money. But I meant that in the sense of, what do I need to do to get that? Not that, oh I deserve to get this, I’ve done this, this and that. No. What do you want me to do? Tell me what you want me to do to get that, and I’m going to go get it done. And that’s what I meant by that.

That follow-up didn’t change how I viewed the initial quote. If money motivates Cauley-Stein to play better, that’s great for him and the Kings. A lucrative contract can be a great carrot. If this quote also makes him sound delusional… well, he hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt.

Cauley-Stein is eligible for a rookie-scale extension before the season. I doubt he signs one. His ceiling is far above his prior performance. He’ll probably use the upcoming season to prove himself then hit restricted free agency.

He is a versatile defender with the size and hops to protect the rim and the mobility to guard on the perimeter. His offensive game has expanded. But doesn’t also play with the focus, force and awareness necessary to make an impact.

There’s potential for Cauley-Stein to earn a major payday. But he must put everything together in ways he hasn’t yet.