Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns were both called for flagrant fouls on Wednesday night for landing under the feet of shooters while attempting blocks on closeouts.
Towns was called for the flagrant foul for landing under Dillon Brooks during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 137-121 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. He seemed confused about the call.
KAT given a flagrant on this play – is feet under a shooter a flagrant now? pic.twitter.com/90BNecpgIL
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 7, 2019
Then in the Golden State Warriors’ 129-112 loss to the Houston Rockets, Cauley-Stein was also called for a flagrant foul for landing under the feet of James Harden.
Willie Cauley-Stein was also given a flagrant for this tonight, this is the Zaza rule pic.twitter.com/tI4Sfa91oD
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 7, 2019
The rule was created and implemented in September 2017 for the purpose of encouraging player safety. It was informally named the “Zaza Rule” because Pachulia had injured Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals that year with a similar move.
When the rule was implemented, officials were given the ability to call fouls for such plays. They could then upgrade to flagrant fouls or technicals depending on whether they viewed the moves as intentional. On Wednesday, the officials immediately called flagrant fouls. It seems the league and refs are trying to make a point about these plays.
The Trill movement is coming to the Golden State Warriors.
Willie Cauley-Stein is joining the Warriors, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson first reported. ESPN’s Zach Lowe says he will sign for something slightly above the minimum salary.
Can confirm. Cauley-Stein will sign for something slightly above the minimum salary, a source says. https://t.co/acJryQ5lik
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 2, 2019
Getting him for just over the minimum is a steal. The Warriors are facing a hard cap this year due to their sign-and-trade involving D’Angelo Russell and Kevin Durant and need to fill out their roster with minimum signings to stay below the tax apron. Cauley-Stein is helping them do so.
Cauley-Stein’s representatives recently stated their desire for the big man to be set free by Sacramento. The Kings originally extended a qualifying offer to Cauley-Stein, making the 2015 lottery pick a restricted free agent. However, they later rescinded the offer after signing Dewayne Dedmon and Cory Joseph, making Cauley-Stein an unrestricted free agent.
Cauley-Stein, 25, averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds a game for the Kings last season. He should have an opportunity to seize plenty of playing time with the Dubs next season.
After four seasons together, Willie Cauley-Stein and the Sacramento Kings appear to be headed for divorce court.
Cauley-Stein’s agent Roger Montgomery of Roc Nation Sports said on Saturday that the big man wants out of Sacramento.
“I really think Willie needs a fresh start,” said Montgomery, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “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.
“We’ve kind of hoped things would change over the years and Willie would get a chance to expand his game, get a chance for some consistency there in terms of the roster turnover and the coaching turnover and the things that have not been steady there,” he added. “That being said, I’m hopeful they will not even give Willie his qualifying offer so Willie can be an unrestricted free agent.”
Cauley-Stein, 25, averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds a game for the Kings last season. When the team drafted him No. 6 overall back in 2015, he had high expectations as an athletic rim runner on offense and a multipositional padlock on defense. But Cauley-Stein’s stock has cratered in recent years due to effort concerns and a general lack of improvement as a player.
The former Kentucky star is due for restricted free agency this summer, but as Montgomery hinted at, can become unrestricted if the Kings do not extend a qualifying offer. The team has other pressing offseason matters to attend to, and a split between the two sides would free up minutes in the frontcourt for the likes of Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles while also giving Cauley-Stein the opportunity to seek a bigger role elsewhere.
Andre Iguodala’s numbers are down across the board, Lou Williams will presumably be starting for the rest of the season with Patrick Beverley out of commission, and Jamal Crawford has probably run out of legacy votes. As such, we should be getting a lot of new blood in the race to win Sixth Man of the Year this season. Here are some challengers to float your banana boat.
*Stats courtesy of NBA.com and ESPN*
Willie Cauley-Stein, PF/C, Sacramento Kings
The Kings’ bench is incinerating opponents with a league-leading 49.1 points per game this season. The effort is being spearheaded by Cauley-Stein, who has been a whirling speed demon on both ends of the court. Trillie, as he is better known colloquially, offers double-double upside nearly every night and has the speed, length, and bounce to pester both backcourt and frontcourt players on defense as well. Now that Sacramento appears to have settled on starting Zach Randolph and Skal Labissiere down low, we should be in for many more months of Cauley-Stein raising the roof as first man off the bench.
Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Los Angeles Lakers
The Sacramento Kings may be getting infinitely less trill.
According to a report by Marc Stein of ESPN on Friday, the Kings are rumored to be open to trading second-year big man Willie Cauley-Stein, who is said to want a bigger role than he currently has under new head coach Dave Joerger.
Cauley-Stein, 23, is averaging 4.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in just 14.5 minutes per game through the first eight games of the season. He was selected No. 6 overall by Sacramento just over 16 months ago, but the Kings are no strangers to pulling the plug prematurely on their own lottery picks (see: Stauskas, Nik and Fredette, Jimmer).
There’s a clear and problematic surplus of frontcourt players on Sacramento’s roster right now, so perhaps a hyper-athletic, defensively versatile player like Cauley-Stein will be able to make more of an impact on another team.
The Sacramento Kings’ mad science experiment is finally beginning to take shape.
On Saturday, head coach George Karl said that rookie big man Willie Cauley-Stein will “probably” start the team’s season opener next Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, per Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento.
George Karl said Willie Cauley-Stein will probably start on Wednesday night vs Clippers. He said he's leaning that way
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) October 24, 2015
The Kentucky product’s capacity for defending all five positions was a huge reason why the Kings selected him No. 6 overall last June, so he should have no trouble hanging with opposing power forwards on defense or acting as the team’s rim protector de jure. But his offensive game still doesn’t go beyond three feet, and it remains to be seen if DeMarcus Cousins’ increased jump-shooting proficiency will afford the duo enough spacing to be a playable frontcourt alongside one another.
Nevertheless, it’s incredible progress for Cauley-Stein, especially after reports earlier this month that he was out of shape at training camp.
The 22-year-old will have to keep things real trill if he wants to hold onto the starting gig, especially with Kosta Koufos and perhaps even Omri Casspi in small-ball lineups breathing down his neck. But for a Kings team that has had a spectacularly bad track record of developing their lottery picks (Nik Stauskas, anyone? Jimmer Fredette?!), this is a huge step in the right direction.
H/T NBA Reddit
Well, here’s some news that probably won’t help you live up to the hype as a supposed $100 million player.
Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein, the No. 6 overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft, is reportedly having issues with his conditioning early on during training camp. This according to CSN Kings Insider James Ham, who appeared on the Coz and Bru Show on Monday to talk about how the seven-footer could barely make his way up and down the court during camp workouts.
“He is going to open the season at 14 minutes a game, if he’s lucky,” said Ham of Cauley-Stein. “When you show up to camp and you can’t run up and down the court twice without being so winded you have to pull yourself off the court, then something’s wrong.”
While it’s never good to go full reactionary, make a mad dash for our panic buttons, and dive headfirst into the nearest underground bunker based on one report at the start of training camp, if Cauley-Stein is indeed out of shape, it’s far more concerning than it would be for your average player.
So much of Cauley-Stein’s worth is directly tied to exactly that: his ability to run the floor for his height (remember how he hung with Jerian Grant for all 94 feet on the final possession of Kentucky’s Elite Eight game against Notre Dame?). It’s also tied to his unparalleled ability to switch onto lightning-quick guards, make weakside rotations to erase shots at the rim, and use his vertical leap and devastating touch around the rim to serve as an elite roll man. All of those skills are heavily predicated on conditioning, so it definitely is a cause for concern if Cauley-Stein is huffing and puffing his way up the court.
Already a longshot to start at the 4 position next season with his inability to space the floor next to DeMarcus Cousins, this unflattering showing at the opening of training camp has gotta set Cauley-Stein back further than he might like to be as he enters his rookie year for the Kings.
Not too trill at all, I’m sorry to say.
Image via Sacramento Kings on YouTube