Ex-Mavericks Center Signs Deal with Division Rival: Report

Willie Cauley-Stein

Getty Willie Cauley-Stein was the 6th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

Former Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein has found a new home, for now.

The former sixth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft will sign a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets and try to land a roster spot during training camp according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

On January 25, 2020, he was acquired by the Mavs from the Warriors for a 2020 second-round pick. After Dwight Powell tore his Achilles, the Mavs were looking for insurance, and they settled on Cauley-Stein.

After averaging 9.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in four seasons before his Mavericks’ tenure, he was expected to provide an interior presence that would give Luka Doncic another option to throw lobs to. Instead, he was rather disappointing, averaging 4.5 points and 4 rebounds in 14.8 minutes a game.

Moreover, he only played 84 games in three seasons with the Mavs. He missed the bubble due to the birth of his child, a thumb injury, and missed six weeks due to a personal case. His best opportunity probably came when he first arrived via trade after Powell blew out his Achilles. Because he opted to skip the bubble, he was unable to seize on that opportunity.

During the time he was away from the team for personal reasons, the Mavericks moved on from Cauley-Stein on January 15, 2022, replacing him with Marquese Chriss.


Cauley-Stein Unlikely to Make Houston Roster

At the moment, the Rockets have 20 players on their roster, and Cauley-Stein will have an uphill battle to make the final 15, especially since he is the 20th player to sign.

Houston has been a franchise that is rebuilding and looking to get their young players as many minutes as possible.

The Rockets drafted Jabari Smith with the No. 3 pick, and already plan to play their sophomore Alperen Sengun heavy minutes at center, and with the trade for Christian Wood, there seems to be a logjam at center for the Rockets. To make matters worse, Chriss and Boban Marjanovic will be battling for a spot, so it is highly unlikely Cauley-Stein will secure a spot.


 Cauley-Stein Production Has Fallen Off 

It has been a fall from grace with how Cauley-Stein was a legitimate starter when he played for Sacramento to now barely even commanding interest for teams around the league.

After his time in Dallas came to an end, he had a brief ten-day stint with the Philadelphia Sixers, where he only saw minutes in two games.

Given his skillset offensively never evolving past setting high screens and rim running, it should not be too surprising that teams are now passing on the seven-year veteran. When big men in today’s game cannot shoot from the perimeter, they must be able to finish around the rim, and also be a rim protector on the other end.

Cauley-Stein has never been one to defend the paint or block many shots in his career. Averaging 0.8 blocks in his entire career, it is probably unlikely that Cauley-Stein gets too many more opportunities in the league.

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