Back on April 24 in game 2 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook banged knees with Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverly while calling timeout and wound up tearing lateral meniscus in his right knee.
The Thunder defeated the Rockets 4-1, but without Westbrook, they were no match for their second round opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies, and lost the series 4-1.
Clearly, if the Thunder are going to again be a contender, they’ll need Westbrook.
With training camp set to open, the five-year veteran isn’t ready to play, but could be back in action soon.
“I wouldn’t say that he will be (ready) and I wouldn’t say that he won’t be,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “We’ve got to see how the next month goes.”
In 82 regular games last season, Westbrook averaged 23.2 points, 7.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He shot 43.8% from the field, 32.3% from beyond the arc and 80.0% from the free throw line.
“He’s on pace, to this point, in the recovery process, but we’re not going to put a specific timetable on his return, simply because it’s just too big of a decision,” Presti said. “His health is most important, not just for this season, but for many years to come. He’s done an excellent job in showing unbelievable discipline and rigor through the process. We expect him to come back at full strength, but he’s got to finish the rest of the benchmarks.”
Presti isn’t the only one who has high expectations for Westbrook upon his return.
“I’m going to come back and be better,” Westbrook told The Oklahoman.
“Every season I try to come back and be a better player. This season should be no different. I should try to come back and be a better player, better teammate and come back and try to win,” Westbrook added.