It’s easy to surmise that Willie Cauley-Stein is a bonafide girl dad.
A little over two months after Cauley-Stein’s daughter was born, she was already attending some of his individual workout sessions. That was the Dallas Mavericks’ center way of letting his daughter know first-hand what dad did for a living.
So, how is Cauley-Stein taking to all of the nuances of fatherhood?
“It’s been wonderful,” he said after Saturday’s practice at the BioSteel Practice Facility. “It’s a grind, it’s tiring, but it’s all worth it when you get woke up in the morning and you see her head pop out the crib and she’s sitting there smiling at you or something, and you’re just like, ‘Man, what are you doing at 7 in the morning like this?’
“When you see that smile, everything just goes away. Any problems that you had just goes away. I enjoy it.”
When his daughter was born on July 7, Cauley-Stein used his Twitter account to tweet: “A Legend was born.” That “Legend” will be five months old on Monday, and dad couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve done a lot of cool stuff, and this literally is probably the coolest thing I’ve done is help raise this girl,” Cauley-Stein said. “I can’t believe it’s already been five months. That’s how fast it’s going.”
Cauley-Stein recalled a conversation about daughters he had with veteran Vince Carter when they were Sacramento Kings teammates during the 2017-18 season.
“Vince, he be saying his daughter is like 13, 14,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t believe you.’ I couldn’t even fathom if my daughter was 13 or 14, or how fast it goes.
“But it’s just fun. It’s just a good time.”
Cauley-Stein admits it was “extremely difficult” not going to the bubble in Orlando with his teammates. But around the time the Mavs departed for Orlando was around the same time Cauley-Stein’s baby girl was born.
Plus, Cauley-Stein has the sickle cell trait, and that likely would have put him at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“Just for the whole time of having a baby on the day that they’re leaving (for Orlando) and not knowing how that’s going to play out,” Cauley-Stein said, explaining the situation he found himself at the time. “And not being able to have any family around the baby for like two months.
“There were a lot of unknowns, and I had to go through it – me and my daughter and my girl and the rest of my family.”
Throw in the fact that last season was the first time in Cauley-Stein’s five-year career that he qualified for the playoffs, and it’s easy to see why he was torn about not being in Orlando with his teammates. He knew since the Mavs acquired him in a trade with the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 25, showing that he could produce when the bright lights of the playoffs were turned on was critical.
“Being out of the bubble was sick for me to watch on the outside, because I knew the opportunity that I had coming in from a trade,” Cauley-Stein said. “Last year was a big year for me to get into the playoff situation and how I can help a team win.
“That’s why I’m so happy about being in the opportunity that I’m in now to come back and have a year or two years to kind of get the program a little more and keep that chemistry building with the team and the coaching staff.”
Cauley-Stein only played 13 games for the Mavs last season and averaged 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting a robust 68.9 percent from the field in just 12.1 minutes per contest. With additional playing time, the 27-year old believes he can become even more efficient.
“You know what I’m going to do when I get in there,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’m very professional on how I approach the game and I’m always ready. The more time I get the more productivity I’ll (have).
“It’s just timing and trust factor through the coaches and the players of how productive I’ll be, or anything like that, stats-wise. But you know my energy when I come into the game and what I try to do it. I’m excited just to do it from the jump this year.”
With coach Rick Carlisle saying forward/center Kristaps Porzingis won’t be ready to play until sometimes in January due to torn meniscus surgery on Oct. 9, that opens the window for possibly more playing time for Cauley-Stein.
“I’ve been working since COVID happened,” Cauley-Stein said. “I was out here working through the bubble, so I’m just ready to relish the opportunity.
“Whenever that comes, I’m ready for it and from the sounds of it it’s going to be there. So it’s just nothing but staying disciplined on the everyday work and continue to get better every day.”
Last month Cauley-Stein picked up the option year on his contract that’ll pay him $2.86 million this season. After what he’s seen in his short time with the Mavs, the 7-foot 240-pounder wants to stick around here long-term.
The Mavs granted Cauley-Stein a nine-day absence last season when he had a death in his family, and they supported him when he decided not to make the trip to the bubble. In Cauley-Stein’s eyes, that spoke volumes about this organization.
“I just like, obviously, how the organization is run,” he said. “It’s Top tier, it’s A-1 from here to everybody on the staff.
“The chemistry on the team is great and I just want to be part of it from the jump, and I’m glad we got to make it happen.”
Spoken like a bonafide girl dad.