The Golden State Warriors signed former Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein to a two-year, $4.4 million deal back in July as the franchise tries to recoup its losses after Klay Thompson tore his ACL, Kevin Durant moved to Brooklyn, and DeMarcus Cousins took another short-term deal, this time with the Lakers. Unfortunately, WCS missed all of training camp with a foot injury that saw him show up to Media Day in a walking boot.
However, Cauley-Stein could make his season debut for the Warriors any day now. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, the seven-footer is “getting pretty close” to making a return and has recently been scrimmaging with the Warriors G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.
Cauley-Stein is getting pretty close. Was down in Santa Cruz this week scrimmaging with some of their G-League players. Wouldn’t be surprised if he returns at some point during upcoming homestand. https://t.co/JinnaM8LZt
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 29, 2019
This news couldn’t come at a better time for Warriors fans, either.
After starting the season with two blowout losses, the Warriors recovered against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday and Golden State now currently sits at 1-2 early in the season. The expectation has always been that Cauley-Stein would make his return sometime during the first couple of weeks in November and it seems that he is still on that timeline.
The Warriors have been funneling frontcourt minutes to Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman, and Marquese Chriss to play alongside Draymond Green and the results have been about as gross as you might think. While those three have done a solid job in their roles, they simply aren’t anywhere as talented as Cauley-Stein, who will be a great pick-and-roll partner for Steph Curry and D’Angelo Russell along with being a force on the glass. Those three are also vastly undersized and Cauley-Stein would immediately be the tallest and longest player on the active roster. WCS and injured center Kevon Looney should both make immediate and noticeable impacts on this roster once they return.
If Cauley-Stein does return during the upcoming homestead for Golden State, that means he could make his season debut either Oct. 30 against the Phoenix Suns, Nov. 1 against the San Antonio Spurs, Nov. 2 against the Charlotte Hornets, or Nov. 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers. If I were Drew Franklin, I’d bet he returns during that third home game against the Hornets. Easing Cauley-Stein into the season facing the likes of Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo will be much less intimidating than LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) or Hassan Whiteside (Trail Blazers), so that should be a good target date for him. My only worry is that Cauley-Stein might rush himself back into game action without being 100 percent healthy as the Warriors frontcourt struggles continue.
Get back soon, Cauley-Stein.