The Dallas Mavericks decided to waive former Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein on Saturday afternoon, per ESPN. In order to make roster space to sign Marquese Chriss for the remainder of the season, Dallas needed to waive the former Kentucky center.
Last offseason, the Mavericks picked up Cauley-Stein’s team option worth $4.1 million. This means his contract would have been up at the end of the season anyway.
The reason Dallas waived him may be more concerning. Cauley-Stein had not appeared in a game for Dallas since November 27th. The team has listed him as inactive or not with the team due to “personal reasons” ever since.
Per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, Mavericks GM Nico Harrison said their conversation with Cauley-Stein was “difficult”. Still, Harrison says Dallas is committed “to support him through his personal situation.”
Cauley-Stein is one of the most decorated players from the John Calipari era. In three seasons at Kentucky, he was a part of two teams that made Final Four appearances. Individually, he won SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the SEC Tournament MVP and was a consensus First Team All American, all in 2014-2015. He then declared for the NBA Draft with six of his Wildcat teammates from a squad that went 38-1.
Through his seven NBA seasons, Cauley-Stein has played for three teams. Sacramento drafted him 6th overall in 2015 and he played for the Kings for four seasons. The Golden State Warriors signed him and he played half a season there before they traded him to Dallas. He’s been with the Mavericks since 2019-2020.
In 18 games for Dallas this season, Cauley-Stein was averaging career lows across the board including 1.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 45.7% shooting from the field in 9.8 minutes per game.
Teams are looking for players to fill in roster spots with COVID protocols making players ineligible, so WCS may still get another chance soon. There’s a chance for a team to claim him off waivers over the next few days. With that said, NBA teams will want him to solve any issues off the court before he gets another shot in the league.