After spending the first four years of his NBA career in Sacramento, Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein has decided he wants a new opportunity with another team.
The Kings could extend a qualifying offer to make Cauley-Stein a restricted free agent, but Cauley-Stein feels it's time for both sides to move on, his agent told The Sacramento Bee on Saturday evening.
"I really think Willie needs a fresh start," said Roger Montgomery, a representative of Roc Nation Sports. "Based on how things have gone for him there in Sacramento, I just think it's time for Willie to move on and we'd really like him to move on."
The Kings issued a brief statement to The Bee on Saturday night.
"Willie is a great player who has shown he can fit our style of play," the team said. "Beyond that, we can't comment further."
Cauley-Stein, 25, just completed the final year of his four-year, $15,350,475 rookie-scale contract. The Kings have until June 30 to extend a $6,265,631 qualifying offer that would make Cauley-Stein a restricted free agent, giving them the right to match any offer he receives from another team. A restricted free agent can sign an offer sheet with any team, but the player's original team can retain him by matching that offer within 72 hours.
"We've kind of hoped that things would change over the years and Willie would get a chance to expand his game, get a chance to get some consistency there in terms of the roster turnover and the coaching turnover and the things that have not been steady there," Montgomery said. "That being said, I'm hopeful they will not even give Willie his qualifying offer so Willie can be an unrestricted free agent."
The Kings selected Cauley-Stein out of Kentucky with the sixth pick in the 2015 NBA draft. He was the first player Kings general manager Vlade Divac drafted after he joined the team's front office.
Cauley-Stein averaged 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals while starting 81 games last season. Cauley-Stein is physically gifted and widely regarded as one of the fastest centers in the league. He's an agile 7-footer who can switch defensively and excels in Sacramento's run-and-gun offense as a rim runner and lob threat, but he ranked 29th among centers in scoring, 24th in rebounding and 55th in blocked shots last season.
In some ways Cauley-Stein is the perfect center for Sacramento's uptempo system, but he has been hampered by inconsistency and fans have clamored for a stronger defensive presence inside.