Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein offered the most vehement response last week when the team traded Iman Shumpert and Justin Jackson in separate deals that brought Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks to Sacramento.
“I just ran my ass off every day with these dudes,” Cauley-Stein said following Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets, hours after the trades were made. “It’s hard when you get friendships, you get brotherhoods, and then, with no say — they don’t even know — they just show up and then they’re gone. That’s trash. It’s a crazy business.”
Cauley-Stein explained his controversial comments during a quiet moment in the Kings’ locker room before Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, telling The Bee he understood the trades but didn’t like the way Shumpert and Jackson received the news. Shumpert was notified he had been traded to the Rockets a few hours before Wednesday’s game, but Jackson was in uniform and participating in warm-ups shortly before tipoff when he was told he had been traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
“I wasn’t necessarily upset about the business, more of how it’s done, them not even knowing,” Cauley-Stein said. “That’s more or less what it was, and (Jackson) having to come off the bench. You just had your whole daily routine before the game and you’re not on the team anymore. There’s got to be a better way to do that. Obviously, this is a business, so trades are going to happen. It’s just how it happened. It should have happened a little differently.”
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Cauley-Stein said he has spoken to both former teammates since the trades.
“Shump’s cool. This was obviously not his first trade, so he knows how it goes down,” Cauley-Stein said. “JJ, he was a little in shock about it, and so were we, so it’s understandable.”
Cauley-Stein said the team is now focused on integrating Barnes and Burks, who could be key additions as the Kings try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06.
“It could take time or it could happen quickly, organically,” Cauley-Stein said.
Barnes and Burks made their Sacramento debuts Friday night, helping the Kings rally from a 17-point deficit to beat the Miami Heat 102-96. Cauley-Stein said the comeback victory — and particularly the team’s defensive effort in the final minutes — is a good example of how the Kings can build chemistry with their new teammates.
“For sure, that’s an example,” he said. “We ended the game with seven stops in a row and finished down the stretch.”