The Kings have a reputation.
John Calipari coached enough future Kings at Memphis and Kentucky to know it well. DeMarcus Cousins most notably had problems with Sacramento. So did Tyreke Evans. Calipari even got a chance to evaluate the Kings up close when they gauged his interest in him.
So, when Sacramento drafted Willie Cauley-Stein No. 6 in 2015, his college coach provided insight.
Cauley-Stein, via Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“Before I got drafted there, [University of Kentucky] coach [John Calipari] kind of warned me what that organization was like already,” Cauley-Stein admitted. “So, I mean, I just went in there just trying to get better. Every year just try to keep on getting better, and that’s the way I approached the game and every day.”
Cauley-Stein’s tenure in Sacramento didn’t bear much fruit. The team never made the playoffs. His development was uneven. By the end, both sides were ready to move on.
Despite a bigger offer from the Hornets, Cauley-Stein signed with the Warriors for two years, $4,463,840 with a player option. He hasn’t really stood out in Golden State.
Maybe Cauley-Stein’s career would be in similar shape no matter where he began it. Some of his issues are more internal than external. And again, joining the Warriors hasn’t exactly jumpstarted his career.
But perhaps spending his formative professional years amid so much dysfunction had a real and lasting effect. This is why other top draft prospects have tried to avoid Sacramento. Remember, the NBA’s draft system generally places the best young prospects in the worst organizations.