So the folks on our staff have known my opinion about Wille Cauley-Stein for a while: to put it gently, I just didn’t see him as a long-term fit.
I always got the feeling that people’s enthusiasm about him was more about looking for a glimmer hope in an otherwise dark season. So I, like others, see nothing but upside from the trade the Warriors made with Dallas for draft picks:
It clears out cap space.
It creates roster (and cap) space for Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider summed up the value of the trade in an analysis posted last night:
The Warriors signed Cauley-Stein last summer for a season that effectively ended with Stephen Curry's second metacarpal fracture in Cauley-Stein's Bay Area debut. Though Cauley-Stein has started 37 games, he didn't necessarily factor into Golden State's long-term planning. Backup Omari Spellman, under contract for 2020-21 and four years younger, is a more likely part of the Warriors' future. So perhaps, too, is Marquese Chriss, who's on a two-way contract but has averaged 17.6 minutes per game for Golden State this season.
Pelton gave the Warriors — and the Dallas Mavericks, for that matter — an A- for the trade and it’s hard for me to see it any other way.
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Update: Official now.
I think some of the criticism of WCS was over the top, then again I felt he deserved a fair amount of it too. Mostly, like others have said, I just wish he had been able to play with the full squad. But ultimately this trade had to happen. I wish WCS well, he seems like a good guy. The tank rolls on...
As far as the “trade” I think it’s addition by subtraction. We really got nothing for him but at least we don’t have to worry about him taking up a roster spot next year
I’m thinking a 7 ft Azubuki would look good in a Warrior uni.
Well, my daughter got him to sign her Jersey last game we went to so she will be bummed. But like all of us she will get over it rwal quick. LOL.
I wish him well and would love to seen how he played with Steph. But I don’t think it’s necessary to wait and see next year with that. And the player option always felt like a burden the Warriors wish was not on the contract.
The frequency of how often he failed to finish relatively easy layups was incredibly frustrating. The times he was focused, I could clearly see him being a valuable piece for next season. But inconsistency doesn't make a team championship level. Shipping him out was almost certainly for the best.
The speed and athleticism from the remaining bigs is a better match with our offense with Steph and Klay as well.
Warriors stats so far this season:
25 in points scored (105.7)
30 in points in paint (42.6)
14 in fastbreak points (13.3)
29 in offensive efficiency
30 in shooting % (42.9%)
26 in three point % (33.8%)
30 in two point % (47.5%)
15 in off. rebound % (22.4%)
25 in def. rebound % (75.8%)
26 in total rebound % (48.6%)
21 in opponent blocks (5.4)
27 in opponent steals (8.3)
12 in assists (24.7)
15 in turnovers (14.7)
23 in points allowed (114.2)
19 in opponent points in paint (49.0)
25 in opponent fastbreak points (14.8)
23 in defensive efficiency
25 in opponent shooting % (47.2%)
29 in opponent three point % (38.1%)
24 in opponent two point % (53.2%)
22 in blocks (4.5)
6 in steals!!!!!!!!! (8.3)
27 in opponent assists (25.6)
3 in opponent turnovers!!!!!!!!!!!! (15.9)
I saw most of WCS's televised games in college. This dude could defend all 5 positions. If he would have played to his scouting report, this cat would have fit the new NBA model of rim running centers perfectly. I still would have loved to have seen him last year and still would have liked to have seen him next year with a full squad potentially. Unfortunately such is life in the NBA and I hope he earns himself a good contract extension.
I'm not really going to go into much deep statistical analysis, other than the obvious fact that this trade is a win-win for both teams.
For the Warriors, they get to offload a relatively heavy salary in WCS -- heavy because they had a largely non-productive center who ate up a sizable chunk of their cap in a year where they are severely hard-capped. With WCS off of their books, they free up approximately $2.57 million in space and free up another roster spot, making them have 2 free spots in total. They can now afford to convert Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss into full contracts, should they choose to do so. Or they can choose to maintain their newfound flexibility for other moves that might be in the making.
Going back to WCS -- sure, he has been more or less a neutral to slightly positive defender according to a few metrics (including being ranked 4th among centers in DRPM), but it hasn't moved the needle significantly for the Dubs. His effort level and dedication have waxed and waned.
I can't help but feel like there's somewhat of an incomplete feeling in regards to his Warriors stint, though. WCS sat out the entire training camp and preseason because of an ankle injury, and when he finally returned four games in, he was forced to re-acclimate to full game speed/fitness and to the Warriors' system on the fly. Plus, when he came back, it was during the same game where Steph Curry broke his left hand. We were never really able to see if Curry's ability to create off the pick-and-roll would elevate WCS into a competent and consistent PnR roll/dive man, and if he could be that release valve in 4-on-3 situations created by defenses trapping Curry. Instead, WCS was surrounded by non-elite perimeter players who are severely limited in their ability to bring the best out of him. The only player left on the roster capable of doing that -- D'Angelo Russell -- was largely unable to develop chemistry and synergy with him, due mostly to dealing with some injury issues himself.
This is where Dallas comes in. They lost Dwight Powell, Luka Doncic's favorite PnR partner (their PnR pairing is the 4th highest-volume PnR pairing in the league, according to Zach Lowe). Powell is an athletic rim runner and roll man, and has shown an ability to make good decisions as the release valve in 4-on-3s. WCS hasn't shown to be on that same level, but he certainly has the potential to be. (That seems to be the theme of WCS's career so far -- potential that is yet to be realized.) Perhaps by finally having that elite, superstar ball handler in Luka that he was looking for in Curry but never came to fruition, WCS can finally thrive in a team that has a real chance of contending in the playoffs.
Hence, win-win for all parties involved.
Reviews from Kings fans right after we signed WCS had him pegged — flashes of real promise, always undermined by maddening inconsistency and lapses of focus on both ends. I didn't want to believe them, but of course, no one knows players better than fans who root like crazy for them to improve, day-in, day-out. (Viz. Dubs fans with Monta and Harry Barnes).
Ultimately what does WCS do better than Chriss? Chriss is the much better shooter, FT shooter, P&R finisher, and passer, plus (despite giving up a couple inches of length) a better shotblocker and rebounder. With a ton more upside at age 22. WCS' notional selling point was that at 7'-0" he was a better matchup with true centers ... but then you see him get eaten alive by a guy like Jonas Valanciunas and wonder how real that notional advantage is.
I give the trade an A, if mostly due to WCS' player option for next season that could have annoyingly hamstrung our efforts to build a championship-contending roster. I think we will need a 15-20 mpg full-size C on next year's team, but even squinting real hard had a really hard time ever seeing WCS as that guy. (As for who that guy is ... who knows. Could Marc Gasol be had for the MLE?)
Anyway, godspeed, Mr. Cauley-Stein. Wish him the best in Dallas. With Luka to get him easy looks, I'm sure he'll show plenty of flashes of real promise amid the maddening inconsistency.
I think it's good for both teams. Yes, W's could use WCS's skills right now but what's the difference between winning 18 vs. 16 games this year? It also gets W's off the hook for WCS's player option next year. Hopefully we get more Smiley time as a result. And don't forget that we still have Looney - hopefully he'll be able to return at some time to play at the level we saw the past couple of years.
Felt bad for WCS since he never got to play with Steph, but he's landed on his feet on a very good Dallas team with the opportunity to immediately get some good minutes. If he plays well there, he's in better shape to help his chances for a bigger payday the following year.
Our Twitter poll results:
73% Fair trade
13% GSW overpaid
7% DAL overpaid
7% Both teams lost