SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — On the eve of training camp, the Golden State Warriors announced Monday that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss at least a month with an injured left foot.
The injury was a significant setback for a team reshaping itself following an off-season where stalwarts Kevin Durant was lost to free agency, Andre Iguodala to the salary cap and Shawn Livingston to retirement.
The Warriors will also be without star guard Klay Thompson until at least after the All-Star Game as he rehabilitates from a torn ACL.
“It’s disappointing for him, mostly,” Warriors General Manager Bob Myers told reporters during the team’s media day Monday. “I know he was ready to go. You’d like to have new players get a chance to get acclimated in camp.”
Cauley-Stein, who averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season with the Sacramento Kings, signed a one-year deal with the Warriors in the off-season. He currently is the one true center on the Golden State roster.
The veteran center said the injury came during a pick-up game last week.
“It was just playing pick-up,” he told reporters. “I went for a lob and came down awkwardly on it. It just put a lot of pressure on the top of my foot and it ended up being a mid-foot sprain.”
As for his recovery process, Cauley-Stein said he would be working with the trainers for the next month.
“We are going to work through the month of October and then day-to-day and see the pain level,” he said. “Really just taking the time and not trying to come back too early on it.”
Head coach Steve Kerr said it helps that the NBA is now “more a league of wings than bigs.”
“What we have had over the past couple years is a stable of veteran guys who can fill very significant, particular roles (at center) – Zaza (Pachulia), JaVale (McGee) and David West,” Kerr said. “In the past, we’ve had a lot of possibilities. This year is different because we are relying on a couple of rookies – at least in camp – in Alen (Smailagic) and Omari (Spellman) who are 4/5s. (Kevon) Looney is also a 4/5.”
“That’s the way the NBA has turned,” he added. “It’s more a league of wings than bigs … that’s part of the excitement of the season. It’s one of things our fans should look forward to … A team that really has to define itself over the year. That’s especially true at the center position.”
Looney told reporters he expected his minutes to increase while Cauley Stein is on the mend.
“My role will change a little bit without Willie,” he said. “It will mean more minutes out there for our bigs… Until he comes back we have to hold down the fort. Steve likes to play center by committee anyway. Everyone is going to have a chance to go out there and show what they can do.”