Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks set to make debuts for Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Golden State Warriors big man Willie Cauley-Stein and veteran swingman Alec Burks will make their season debuts Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns. Cauley-Stein, who signed with the team over the summer, missed all of training camp and the first three regular-season games after injuring his left foot in a workout.

"Finally," he said with a bit of a smile after Wednesday's shootaround. "[The wait] was long. But they kept me busy. They kept me always doing something. I was always doing conditioning or weights. Or just spot shots. So I haven't been just sitting around. I've been watching and being tortured. Man, I'm just so excited to be out there again."

Cauley-Stein's return gives the Warriors some big-man depth as the organization waits for test results for Kevon Looney. Looney, who played only 10 minutes in a season-opening loss to the LA Clippers, will see several specialists next week as the Warriors evaluate "an ongoing presence of a neuropathic condition in his body." Looney will miss at least the next four games, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said.

Young big man Marquese Chriss started the team's first two games, and Kerr went small in Monday night's victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, replacing Chriss with rookie guard Jordan Poole.

"I'm the biggest guy out there," Cauley-Stein said. "So that mismatch won't be there anymore. But it's not being able to practice and really feel the jell. This will be the first time I even practice with these dudes in a game setting, so it's going to be a lot of learning on the fly."

Cauley-Stein said he wasn't sure how many minutes he would play Wednesday night, but he was looking forward to helping his new group out as it continues to build a new identity after so many years of winning with a veteran core. After four seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Cauley-Stein said he has enjoyed his brief time with the Warriors.

"It's a different vibe culturally," Cauley-Stein said. "They've got a winning experience so that lingers here, you can feel it when you walk into the building. You can feel it when you talk to fans, so that comes with a big target on your back. When everybody else comes and plays you, we're going to get everybody's best regardless of what everybody thinks of us."

In the midst of his answer, Cauley-Stein revealed that Burks, who also missed most of camp and the first three games of the season because of a right ankle sprain, would make his debut Wednesday night.

"[Draymond Green] already said it, it's going to take a few games for us to jell," Cauley-Stein said. "Especially now that me and Alec [Burks], this is our first game to get minutes and stuff. For us to really jell, it's going to take a few games for us to get that pace of how we're playing. They're playing extremely fast right now watching, so it's like a lot of fast-paced learning."

Looney has been traveling with the team and going through some pregame shooting drills, but the Warriors remain unsure exactly when he'll be able to return.

"Well, he's frustrated and we're frustrated for him," Kerr said before the game. "He's scheduled to see some specialists coming up soon, I think early next week. So we're just hoping for the best. He's able to kind of do controlled workouts with the training staff, so he's getting conditioning, he's getting shooting, just no live action."

Jacob Evans has a left adductor strain and will be reevaluated in three weeks. Evans suffered the injury in Monday's win at New Orleans.

"It's a big blow," Kerr said of losing Evans. "Jacob has been really good throughout camp and the first week of the season. One of our better defenders on the floor and guarding the ball especially. So we'll miss that aspect and most importantly just a young player who was finally getting some time. Finally getting some minutes to show what he could do so I feel bad for Jacob, but he'll be back. He's just got to get healthy and we got to be patient."
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