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#pounditTuesday, May 21, 2024

Ex-NBA draft bust getting another shot in league

Willie Cauley-Stein looking on

Nov 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein (33) shoots in warmups before the game against the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The fifth team will hopefully be the charm for one former lottery pick.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that ex-Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein has agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets. Cauley-Stein will get a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp.

Now 28, Cauley-Stein split time last season between the Dallas Mavericks and the Philadelphia 76ers. He only made 20 total appearances though, averaging 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in less than 10 minutes per game.

Expectations were sizable for Cauley-Stein coming out of college, especially after he was named a First Team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was selected No. 6 overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2015 NBA Draft (ahead of players such as Myles Turner and Kentucky teammate Devin Booker). While the physical gifts (do-it-all defensive versatility and skywalker leaping ability) were there, Cauley-Stein never quite panned out in the NBA. Other than an All-Rookie Second Team selection and a season or two of empty stats after Sacramento sold off DeMarcus Cousins, Cauley-Stein still does not have much to show for his pro career.

In Houston however, Cauley-Stein might have an opportunity to catch on. Outside of creative second-year Alperen Sengun, the Rockets have a gaping hole in the frontcourt after trading away this other big man. Cauley-Stein could also have an advantage in that Houston head coach Stephen Silas previously coached him as an assistant in Dallas.


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