Report: Hornets offered $9 million to Willie Cauley-Stein, who took less than half that with Warriors

Dan Feldman

Willie Cauley-Stein entered his contract year with the Kings last season by declaring, “I’m ready to get paid.”

But he settled for just a two-year, $4,463,840 contract with a player option from the Warriors. It apparently wasn’t because he lacked a bigger offer, though.

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Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle:

The Warriors could offer barely more than a minimum contract, a far cry from the $9 million deal the Hornets had presented.

The length of Charlotte’s offer is unclear. The Hornets could’ve offered a $9 million salary this season. But they instead used some of their mid-level exception to sign No. 36 pick Cody Martin, No. 52 pick Jalen McDaniels and undrafted free agent Caleb Martin to long-term deals. As is, Charlotte would’ve had enough left over to give Cauley-Stein $9 million over two years. The deal could have also been over three years.

So, the devil is in the details – not just contract length, but also guarantees and options. If Cauley-Stein plays well in Golden State, he could opt out and earn far more than his current $2,177,483 salary. If not, he has a guaranteed $2,286,357 fallback next season for the player option.

Of course, this probably isn’t about income. The Hornets’ offer was probably better financially than the Warriors’. Cauley-Stein joined a team coming coming off a dynastic run over a team that couldn’t even make the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The cruel twist: Charlotte (4-3) might win more games than Golden State (2-5) this season. The Warriors looked bad – and that was before Stephen Curry broke his hand. Draymond Green, D'Angelo Russell and several other players are also banged up.

Cauley-Stein will probably never earn the $100 million Larry Bird once said the young big would be worth. But now he’s not even getting the $9 million the Hornets valued him at.

Money isn’t everything. Winning isn’t everything.

Hopefully, Cauley-Stein finds something that makes him justify his decision.

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