The Houston Rockets went into the 2022 offseason wanting to add depth at center behind first-year starter Alperen Sengun. Now, two weeks after bringing back Bruno Fernando on a training camp deal, they’re set to bring former NBA draft lottery pick Willie Cauley-Stein into the fold under a similar arrangement.
“Free agent center Willie Cauley-Stein has agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports. “Cauley-Stein will compete for a roster spot in training camp.”
Now 28 years old, Cauley-Stein was the No. 6 pick in the 2015 NBA draft by Sacramento. The 7-foot-0 big man, who played in college at the University of Kentucky, played only sparingly last season in 20 games (mostly mop-up duty) with Dallas and Philadelphia.
Cauley-Stein was fairly productive as a rotation player for the Mavericks in the previous season (2020-21), when he averaged 5.3 points (63.2% FG) and 4.5 rebounds in 17.1 minutes. Dallas earned the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs that season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 12, 2022
Statistically, Cauley-Stein’s best years came in his original NBA home with the Kings. In a two-season span from 2017-18 through 2018-19, Cauley-Stein averaged 12.3 points (52.8% FG), 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 27.6 minutes per game.
The Rockets currently have a full roster, but it won’t be a problem to create a roster spot, since at least three of the four players acquired from Dallas in the Christian Wood trade (Marquise Chriss, Boban Marjanovic, Sterling Brown, and Trey Burke) aren’t expected to stick around. According to reports, Marjanovic is the only potential keeper.
In order to sign Willie Cauley-Stein as reported, the Houston Rockets will need to waive someone. They are already at the offseason maximum of 20 players.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 12, 2022