Willie Cauley-Stein chose Warriors to shake off stigma of not working hard enough
The Golden State Warriors’ signing of free-agent center Willie Cauley-Stein was one met with perplexed eyes throughout the league, considering the Sacramento Kings has extended a qualifying offer prior to the start of free agency. The 7-foot Kentucky product could have likely netted much better compensation from other teams, but he chose to ink a two-year, $4.4 million deal to play in San Francisco.
The 26-year-old big man was asked why he took that decision, and his answer makes a whole lot of sense, given the reputation that’s preceded him.
“In Sacramento, they put a tag on me that I wasn’t invested or I didn’t care about hoops like that,” Cauley-Stein told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “A lot of stuff that this platform exited out. You can’t go to one coach or one trainer in that facility and say I don’t work hard. But that’s one thing that they used to say. ‘Oh, he don’t work hard enough, blah, blah, blah.’ Dude, you don’t know how hard I’m working. So, that was like the biggest thing for me was the clout that this team has. The championship. Got wins. But most importantly, they get it. They get it from a perspective that some teams can’t even get close to touching. …
“If I wasn’t invested in hoops, I would not come to the Warriors. The stage is too hard. Everybody’s looking at this. If I didn’t really like hoops, I’m going to go get a bag somewhere else. A little pretty bag.”
Cauley-Stein had fallen short of general manager Vlade Divac’s expectations, as the former NBA big dipper hoped WCS would transform into a 15-point, 10-rebound, two-block performer on a nightly basis.
WCS fell short of that, and it was clear the Kings’ qualifying offer was a sign of their lack of confidence in his play. Sacramento quickly signed Dewayne Dedmon as his replacement on a three-year, $40 million deal, but that signing has yet to pan out for the organization.
The Warriors have slowly incorporated Cauley-Stein after he missed the entire preseason with an injury, and he has been holding steady, already recording more than a fourth of last season’s block totals in merely 12 games with the team.