DALLAS, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 10: Willie Cauley-Stein #33 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines ... [+] Center on February 10, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)Getty Images
Sunday afternoon, the Dallas Mavericks made what is likely their final move during free agency. After two days of methodical additions, they addressed one last need. Dallas and center Willie Cauley-Stein agreed to terms on a two-year, $8.2 million contract, ESPN reports.
Dallas acquired Cauley-Stein in a trade with the Golden State Warriors last season after center Dwight Powell sustained a season-ending Achilles tear. He appeared in 13 games and averaged 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 12.1 minutes off the bench.
Cauley-Stein, 27, did not join the Mavericks in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He opted to forgo the season restart as he and his partner were expecting the birth of a child in July.
The Mavericks needed an additional big man on the roster and Cauley-Stein is serviceable. Star Kristaps Porzingis will miss training camp and the start of the season as he recovers from surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. Prior to coming to terms with Cauley-Stein, the Mavs were carrying just two healthy centers on the roster: Powell and Boban Marjanovic.
Dallas will use part of its remaining mid-level exception to sign Cauley-Stein. The Mavericks had roughly $6 million left to play with heading into Sunday. The second year of the contract is a team option, giving the Mavs increased financial flexibility heading into 2021, when the free agent class—headed by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo—is considered to be one of the strongest in recent memory.
While Cauley-Stein certainly fills a need for the team, his signing may appear lackluster, considering reports that another player had interest in Dallas. Free agent center Marc Gasol gave the Mavericks strong consideration according to a report. His interest in the Mavs waned, however, as the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers emerged as frontrunners.
The addition of Cauley-Stein puts the Mavericks in a situation where they will have to cut a player with guaranteed money before the start of the regular season. Dallas currently has 16 players under contract, to go along with two two-way players. NBA teams can only carry a total of 15 players on their regular roster.
Guaranteed contractsGuards: J.J. Barea, Jalen Brunson, Trey Burke, Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Tyrell Terry Forwards: Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Green, Wesley Iwundu, James Johnson, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis, Josh Richardson Centers: Willie Cauley-Stein, Boban Marjanovic, Dwight Powell
It wasn’t a splashy off-season, but the Mavericks addressed the primary needs of the roster. They increased their depth around the perimeter and brought back a backup big man that they can plug into the middle. Someone will be the odd man out after training camp, but that should make it even more competitive.
Training camps open December 1.