McGary Out, Ibaka & Jones Expected Back For Thunder
By Randy Renner
Remember back in the day when the Thunder never had to worry about the dreaded injury bug? A little strain or sprain, a game or two missed here and there sure but that was about as serious as it ever got the first few seasons the team was here.
Wow, has that changed.
Mitch McGary is the latest to fall victim to the injury bug and it bit just as McGary was really getting on a roll. The rookie forward from Michigan had recovered nicely from back surgery last winter, was very impressive in summer league, kept that up the first week of training camp and played very well Wednesday night in Denver until something snapped late in the game.
That something turned out to be the second metatarsal bone in his left foot. That break will keep him out of the Thunder lineup for about six weeks. OKC had already been missing forwards Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Perry Jones III. All have been hobbled by sprained ankles and of course center Kendrick Perkins remains out as he rehabs from a strained quad. Forward Richard Soloman, signed to the Thunder's training camp roster, is also out.
Yesterday after the team's practice at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks revealed at least a little bit of good injury news as the Thunder prepares to meet the Mavericks tonight in Big D.
"Serge practiced and Perry practiced so that added two more (back to the lineup)." Brooks went on to say that both Ibaka and Jones should play tonight, "yeah that's the plan."
Collison is still day-to-day with that sprained ankle and Perk is still probably a couple of weeks away from being allowed to fully participate in practice.
At least this most recent attack by the injury bug comes during training camp and Brooks said it provides some opportunities for his coaching staff to further evaluate younger players and explore some rotations and matchups that wouldn't necessarily explore.
"It does give guys opportunities that maybe they wouldn't have gotten if we had a healthy squad, I'd rather have a healthy squad, no question about that, but it does give guys an opportunity."
And Brooks isn't just talking about players.
"Part of coaching is adapting," Brooks pointed out, "and sometimes you've gotta coach on the fly when guys are banged up or guys are under the weather. But we always figure out ways to improve and not make any excuses along the way."
The Thunder and Mavericks tipoff tonight at 7:30 and there are tickets available so all the Thunder fans who also happen to be OU (or Texas) fans should take advantage of the opportunity and check out the game.
The Thunder's first home preseason game will be Tuesday night when the Memphis Grizzlies come to town.