Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t want to stay in Sacramento, according to a report from the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson. Willie’s agent spoke with Anderson and made it clear in no uncertain terms that Willie would like a fresh start and hopes the Kings will not extend a qualifying offer.
“We’ve kind of hoped that things would change over the years and Willie would get a chance to expand his game, get a chance to get some consistency there in terms of the roster turnover and the coaching turnover and the things that have not been steady there,” Montgomery said. “That being said, I’m hopeful they will not even give Willie his qualifying offer so Willie can be an unrestricted free agent.”
If the Kings extend a qualifying offer, Willie will be a restricted free agent. This allows the Kings up to 72 hours to match any offer sheets Willie signs. Restricted free agents generally aren’t able to maximize their value in free agency. Teams know that reasonable offers will get matched, so they don’t want to even bother tying up cap space for three days. It makes perfect sense that Willie and his agent would prefer unrestricted free agency over restricted free agency.
As for the Kings, they have little incentive not to extend a qualifying offer. Despite his struggles with consistency (hilariously the same thing his agent complains about with the Kings), rebounding, and rim protection, Willie is coming off his best NBA season and fits the Kings offensive style. There’s no incentive for them to let Willie walk for nothing.
Extending a qualifying offer should be a foregone conclusion. The Kings can rescind the offer at any time if they need the cap space. If Willie gets offered a reasonable contract, the Kings could match and could always trade him later. If the offer is too rich, the Kings could attempt a sign-and-trade or simply allow Willie to peace unmatched.
The Kings hold all the leverage. Willie’s camp is asking the Kings to release that leverage. There’s no reason to expect the Kings to do so.