Willie Cauley-Stein and Vlade Divac open up

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Following an emotional week filled with controversy and rumors, the Sacramento Kings stood their ground and drafted Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein sixth overall.

The evening was drama-free. All-Star DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t traded, and head coach George Karl wasn’t fired. The Kings improved their roster with a potentially elite defender, and one who’s enthralled to play in the capital city.

An hour after joining the team, Cauley-Stein spoke to the media on the phone from New York. Vice President of Basketball and Franchise Operations Vlade Divac fielded questions shortly after in the Kings practice facility.

Cauley-Stein is expected to address the media in Sacramento on Saturday. Highlights of Thursday’s interviews are quoted below.

Players Notes and Quotes

  • Willie Cauley-Stein on pairing with DeMarcus Cousins: “It’s going to be good. If DeMarcus does decide to stay, I think that the lineups and the matchups that we can do are just mindblowing, I mean they’re over the top. You can put a lot of different lineups together and change the aspect of the game and change the energy of the game.”
  • Cauley-Stein on his health concerns: “I prepared for that. Me and my agent prepared for that. I went to the best foot doctor in the country weeks before it got put out so (the) Kings had the background to go talk to one of the best doctors in the country so and I know that there’s nothing wrong with it. I think it got put out there for a publicity standpoint to make me move down in the draft.”
  • Cauley-Stein on his limited offense: “Honestly it’s a lot to do with the situation. In college I had Karl-Anthony Towns, I had Devin Booker, I had the twins. I maybe took, the most shots I took a game was eight. You know, I could have went to a different school and put up 20 shots a game and we wouldn’t be talking about my offensive game. And I think, with the NBA with the way it’s spread out it fits in right into the way I play, which is trying to use my speed and quickness on dudes that are guarding me on the other side.”
  • Cauley-Stein on whether he sees himself as a center or power forward: “Definitely a power forward.”
  • Cauley-Stein on being the Kings’ stopper: “I love the idea of that role. That’s what gets me, that’s what drives me. That plays right into what I like to do. And I take a tremendous amount of pride on defense, so if I’m supposed to be a defensive stopper and I have to guard the best player on the team, that’s my role, then that’s what it is. I accept that role. I’m excited to get going on that.”
  • Cauley-Stein on choosing a jersey number: “Since Boogie got 15, I have to try to figure out which ones I have. You know I thought about 000, 3, 5, 1, any of those.”
  • Cauley-Stein on the Cousins-Karl controversy: “I’m not worried about it. They’re going to work it out. Whatever happens, it happens. I have no control over that. The only thing I can control is my attitude and my effort for the team and the organization. Whatever beef they got, that’s on them, so I can’t really speak on it.”
  • Cauley-Stein on how to play good team defense: “Everybody on the same page and everybody wanting to do it. If we all come together, we’re all athletes, that’s what the thing is, we’re all able to learn rapidly. If we all come together as a team and as brothers, and really care for each other as brothers and we want to do it, then that’s going to happen, we’re going to do it. But if we don’t come together as a team, we’re playing for ourselves, then that’s what it’s going to look like.”

Front Office Notes and Quotes

  • Vlade Divac on Cousins and Cauley-Stein: “I think they’re going to be a great combo. What I like about Willie (is) he came here, he worked so hard in (the) workout, and he did a great job. He’s coming from a great system of basketball and I really trust his ability to play basketball.”
  • Divac on what Cauley-Stein brings: “Everything. Blocking shots, rebounding. He’s a tall guy, very quick. His footwork is probably the fastest (for a) big guy I ever saw. He can run fast breaks. Offensively, I’m sure he can pick up a couple rebounds. He probably could (since) I couldn’t jump. Can you imagine what he’s going to do? I’m happy, I’m really happy.”
  • Divac on why he passed on Emmanuel Mudiay: “I heard a lot of good stuff about Mudiay. He refused to come here to work out, and I just felt, I didn’t know him enough to make the very important decision, so I just stick with something that I know.”
  • Divac on the recent Cousins trade rumors: “Well it bothers me in some way because it can sometimes get you off focus of what you’re trying to do. It’s a lot of rumors, it’s a lot of, ‘One thing is true and (another thing’s) not. You put everything together and just don’t know what you think. I just want to be part of the game. I just want to focus, step by step. Today was the draft, tomorrow is something else but I can’t do everything in the same day.”
  • Divac on the reported in-house tension: “Today, it was a story about coach and Vivek, and you didn’t ask me that, but I’m going to answer it. I know it was coming but I want to make sure…It was a problem. But it wasn’t Vivek and George. It was me and George. So I’m here, who can talk with the media. I am here to talk with the agents. I respect my coach, and I think he’s great, but he has to trust me to do my job, that’s all.”
  • Divac on his job responsibilities: “It was something that I’ll keep to myself. I have so much respect for my coach, and I felt bad to do something that I didn’t want to do, I didn’t like to do, but I had to do. Send a message not just for the coach but for everybody over there. I want to be in charge of everything, and if we make mistakes then I know I made the mistake, nobody else. So that’s why today we didn’t know we were going to pick until the last second. Vivek begged me to tell him. I said, ‘Who’d you like?’ He mentioned some name. I said, ‘That one.’ So he was surprised.”
  • Divac on Cousins’ whereabouts: “Yeah I talked to DeMarcus on the phone. He’s down in Mexico doing a vacation and I wish he gets rest.”
  • Divac on advice to Cousins: “Just to stay away from all these things (the news). Because it’s not healthy for him, for anybody. We just have to forget what’s happening.”
  • Divac on the next offseason moves: “Oh we know exactly what we need. We need, definitely somebody who can help us defensively at the 3 position, because Rudy is going to most of the time play at the 4. Obviously Darren needs a little help at point guard because coach likes toplay with sometimes 2 point guards. We tried to get another pick because a couple guys that we really like, point guards were available late in the 1st. We tried, it didn’t happen but we go to free agency.”

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Rui Thomas
Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.

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