Sixers Announce Debut Date, Jersey Number for Willie Cauley-Stein

Willie Cauley-Stein

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

The search for Andre Drummond’s replacement is over. The Philadelphia 76ers signed Willie Cauley-Stein to a 10-day contract on Thursday. The 7-footer was recently waived by the Dallas Mavericks.

He’ll wear No. 00 for the Sixers and debut alongside James Harden on Friday night against Minnesota. NBC Sports’ John Clark was the first to report the move.

Cauley-Stein saw action in 18 games this season while averaging 6.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The former No. 6 overall pick has bounced around the league since making NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2016. He’ll likely slide right into the backup center role and give the Sixers another experienced big man to use off the bench with Charles Bassey, Paul Reed, Paul Millsap.

Cauley-Stein had nothing but kind words for Embiid after his Sacramento Kings earned a hard-fought 115-108 victory over the Sixers on February 2, 2019. He had 19 points to Embiid’s 29 in that one. After the game, Cauley-Stein called his new teammate one of the best big men in the league.

“You gotta always have a body on him. As soon as you relax, he’s going to duck you in and take that space and he’s really good at manipulating those [foul] calls,” Cauley-Stein told reporters. “It’s really tough to guard him down there and he’s a really good player. You just got to stick with it – he’s gonna score, he’s gonna get rebounds, he’s gonna do his game and you just gotta get the stops when it counts.”

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JJ Redick Thinks James Harden Needs to Defer

James Harden is a future Hall of Famer who was just named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. He’s an offensive juggernaut who can easily put 50 points on any given night. Now he’s coming into Philly to play Robin to Embiid’s Batman. Former Sixers guard JJ Redick appeared on ESPN to give his take on how this new partnership should work.

“This is Joel’s team,” Redick said. “Joel is in his prime playing like an MVP so there are times when James will have to feed the post and then go spot up because Joel is in his best when he’s in that spot right there on the left wing.”

Redick – a part-time analyst for ESPN – also jokingly congratulated Embiid for “upgrading” from him to Harden. Remember, Redick and Embiid were teammates in 2017 and 2018. He averaged 17.6 points per game in those two seasons.

Pencil in James Harden’s Sixers Debut

There’s mounting evidence of Harden making his Sixers’ debut on Friday night in Minnesota. First, Daryl Morey tweeted out a teaser about “The Beard” playing against the Timberwolves and then Embiid told the TNT broadcast crew “that’s the plan” when asked about it. Harden has already been making an impact on the team’s younger players, too.

The 10-time All-Star has been teaching his new teammates his patented step-back jumper during practices. And he was spotted on the bench the other night imparting sage advice to Tyrese Maxey. Harden is expected to mentor the second-year guard in Philly.

“I think he felt like I was being passive early,” Maxey said, “and he pulled me to the side in a timeout said, ‘go be yourself,’ and I tried to do that, and it ultimately helped us win the game.”

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