Kings Blog

Kings notes: Willie Cauley-Stein still in the mix, George Karl says

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love attempts to block a layup by the Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love attempts to block a layup by the Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

It’s normal for an NBA coach to have an aversion to playing rookies. More than once this season, Kings coach George Karl has expressed reservations about using Kings rookie Willie Cauley-Stein in certain situations.

Cauley-Stein’s playing time has been brief in recent games, but Karl said that’s not indicative of his plans for the rookie. He said the flow of some recent games has led to less playing time for the center.

After playing 20 minutes in last Wednesday’s loss at Memphis, Cauley-Stein played a total of 24 minutes in the next three games with six minutes in last Thursday’s win at Dallas and six minutes Monday in a loss at New Orleans.

“Don’t overreact to the last three or four games,” Karl said. “Willie is going to be fine. Willie is going to be playing in these next 20 games.”

Karl said the style of Monday’s game coupled with Cauley-Stein’s mistakes in the previous game against New Orleans led to his decreased minutes.

Also, the Kings were more likely to lean on veterans as they attempted to make the playoffs. As the postseason becomes less likely, there would be more reason to give Cauley-Stein time to continue developing.

Cauley-Stein entered Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers averaging 19.5 minutes in 48 games.

Lack of guards – Ben McLemore (non-displaced fracture in the right ring fingertip), Marco Belinelli (back spasms) and Seth Curry (right foot sprain) all missed Wednesday’s game.

That left the Kings using two point guards, Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison, in the starting lineup. The only other healthy guard was James Anderson.

McLemore was injured Monday, he said, fighting to get around a screen.

“Got my hand stuck into a jersey or something like that,” McLemore said.

The lack of perimeter players led Karl to use veteran forward Caron Butler for the first time since Dec. 21.

The lack of perimeter players led Karl to use veteran forward Caron Butler for the first time since Dec. 21.

It was thought that might be one of Butler’s last games with the Kings as it had been reported he would be traded. The rumored trade with Milwaukee didn’t materialize.

Butler was greeted with a big ovation.

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