OAKLAND -- The Warriors haven't closed the door on the return of Patrick McCaw. Not completely. Not yet.
But it's becoming clearer that the defending champions are preparing for a season without the slender wing they selected after buying a second-round pick the 2016 draft. Not that they have a choice, as McCaw has sat out the first two of the three weeks between training camp and opening night.
His absence explains in large measure why the Warriors sat three healthy mainstays -- Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Klay Thompson -- Monday night against the Phoenix Suns.
"We'll get a good look at all of our young guys," coach Steve Kerr said before tipoff.
Yes, it's Audition Night for the hopefuls, beginning with wing Danuel House Jr., who started in place of Thompson alongside Curry in the backcourt against the Suns.
(Side note: If McCaw were in camp, he likely would have gotten that start.)
The Warriors have 13 guaranteed contracts on the roster, leaving two still available. They've indicated they may open the season with a 14-man active roster. That 14th spot, once earmarked for McCaw, is now an open competition.
Under normal conditions, Damion Lee would be first in line for the vacant wing spot. He signed a two-way contract in July but has been sidelined (left partial plantar fascia release) throughout camp and is unable to play.
That has created room for others. The Warriors got decent looks at point guard Tyler Ulis and power forward Marcus Derrickson (both on Exhibit 10 contracts) when they were given starts against the Kings last Friday in Seattle. This time, it's House's turn. He's on a non-guaranteed training camp deal.
"I'm especially fond of this group," Kerr said. "They've done a great job. They've brought energy. They've put a ton of work in. They're coming to practice before everybody else, before the older guys. So they're up to speed on everything, and they've lifted the level of play in training camp.
"We haven't made decisions yet. We've got the rest of the week to make some really tough decisions."
Somebody is going to get a roster spot, with House and fellow wing Alfonzo McKinnie looking like the best bets.
Evaluations should be in by Wednesday, with decisions made by Saturday.