SACRAMENTO — The Golden State Warriors have agreed to a contract with former Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein. The news was first reported by The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson.
Details were not immediately known (and won’t be official until July 6). The deal came just one day after the Kings rescinded their qualifying offer to Cauley-Stein at his request, making him an unrestricted free agent.
The signing of the 25-year old Cauley-Stein is a coup for a Golden State team that came into the offseason with just one center — Damian Jones — under contract. Having already agreed to a three-year deal to bring back Kevon Looney, the Warriors now have two young, athletic frontcourt options to go along with Draymond Green, and arguably the most talented backcourt in the NBA.
Nine of the 12 Warriors now projected for next year’s roster are 25 or younger. That’s not including Shaun Livingston, who’s expected to be waived or traded. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both signed to long-term deals, Golden State is primed to continue to be a competitive team even after Durant’s departure.
Part of what makes Cauley-Stein a good fit is his pick-and-roll ability, where he can operate at the top of the key with both Stephen Curry and the newly-acquired D’Angelo Russell, whose greatest strength is in the pick-and-roll. Even if Russell winds up being a trade piece once Thompson returns, Cauley-Stein is a young, athletic big who gives Golden State a mobile rebounder who can run the floor and defend the pick-and-roll.
That the Warriors have only mid-level exceptions and minimum contracts to give thanks to their salary cap situation — they are repeat luxury tax payers and are up against the hard cap — makes the acquisition all the more impressive.
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft played 81 games this past season, averaging 11.9 points, and setting career-highs with 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals over 27.3 minutes per game. He shot 55.6% from the floor, but only 55.1% from the free-throw line.