Mavs keep frontcourt depth by picking up Cauley-Stein option

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks picked up the $4.1 million team option on center Willie Cauley-Stein’s contract, opting to keep a player who provides depth in a frontcourt headlined by Kristaps Porzingis.

Cauley-Stein came to Dallas in a deal with Golden State before the trading deadline in 2019-20. He played 13 games for the Mavericks before the pandemic shut down the season, then opted out of the restart in the Florida bubble.

The 27-year-old played 53 games in sporadic duty under coach Rick Carlisle, who resigned a day after general manager Donnie Nelson was fired in June.

Jason Kidd replaced Carlisle, and Nico Harrison was hired as GM and president of basketball operations after nearly 20 years in the basketball division at Nike.

The move with Cauley-Stein should leave Dallas with about $30 million in salary cap space in free agency. The Mavericks are interested in re-signing shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., while other moves might require sign-and-trade agreements.

Harrison’s first move was trading Josh Richardson to Boston to clear some cap space as Dallas continues to try to build around star point guard Luka Doncic with questions surrounding the role of Porzingis.

Dallas acquired the 7-foot-3 Latvian in a 2019 trade with the idea of Porzingis being the Slovenian sensation’s European sidekick. The Mavericks lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round in each of their first two playoff appearances.

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