In the face of rumors ranging from a DeMarcus Cousins trade to a George Karl firing, the Sacramento Kings found time to make Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein the No. 6 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday.
Cauley-Stein was a consensus First Team All-American last season at UK, the first to achieve so while averaging fewer than 10 points a game. He became the first Wildcat to record 200 or more blocks and 100 or more steals over the course of their career. He is second in school history with 233 blocked shots.
Vice President Vlade Divac took Cauley-Stein in his first major move since taking over the organization this offseason from departed general manager Pete D'Alessandro.
The Kings selected Cousins with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 Draft. Cauley-Stein's intrigued by the prospect of playing with Cousins in Sacramento, calling it a blessing to learn under "Big Cuz."
"We're both really versatile," Cauley-Stein said to the Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton. "He's a banger, but he's also got finesse."
"It doesn't really matter how stable they are or not," he said when asked about the Cousins-Karl controversy that's seemingly boiled behind the scenes in recent weeks.
"I'm talented enough to do a lot of different things," Cauley-Stein said to ESPN after exiting the draft stage. "When I get to Sacramento I'm gonna work my butt off and try to become a complete player and hopefully bring a championship to the city."
There were some concerns about Cauley-Stein's health after he underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his ankle late in the 2013-14 season.
"Nothing's wrong with it," said Cauley-Stein when Shannon Spake asked about his foot injury. "It's healing. ... It's 95 percent healed. You've seen what I've done the past year, you've seen what I've been doing, so it's fine. It's really fine."
The Kings are coming off another tumultuous, losing season that saw the organization go use three head coaches and post a 29-53 record. Sacramento has missed the playoffs for nine straight seasons and has the second-worst record in the NBA over that span.
The Kings fired coach Michael Malone 24 games into the season and replaced him with Tyrone Corbin. That tenure lasted just 28 games before Karl was hired to coach the franchise.
Karl posted an 11-19 record down the stretch but has far from solidified the franchise. D'Alessandro left in the offseason for Denver and Divac took over running the team, and the Kings have been surrounded by reports that Cousins is on the trading block because Karl does not want to build the team around him.