By Randy Renner
I hate to be little Debbie Downer here but you might wanna pump the brakes a little on all this Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing Friday talk.
Yes one or the other of them (Westbrook would seem a little more likely since he's dealing with a finger not a foot issue) could play Friday I guess, but only if 100 percent ready and able.
All this Friday talk started mostly because Friday is the first day they would be allowed to play under the NBA's hardship rule. That day doesn't have anything to do with their medical situations.
The second 10-day contract of Ish Smith, who was brought in to shore up the Thunder numbers after so many injuries, expires on Thanksgiving Day. After that the Thunder could, under the rules, bring back any of their long-term injured players. Durant, Westbrook, Mitch McGary or Grant Jerrett would be eligible to return but again that doesn't mean any of them would be medically cleared to play and physically able to play.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks wouldn't play the speculation game when he was asked if Friday might be too early to bring Westbrook back.
“I don’t know,” Brooks said. “I just focus on his work that he put in (Monday) and just continue to build off that. He will get evaluated later on this week and then we can make some of those decisions later on.”
Brooks said both Westbrook and Durant participated in most of Monday's practice, including some of the contact drills.
“They looked good,” Brooks said. “But no more than that. They’re going to continue to go through this process, and when they’re ready, 100 percent ready, they will play. But until then, nothing else we know of.”
When reporters were allowed out onto the practice gym floor Durant had already gone back into the locker area but Westbrook was sitting in a chair on the sideline with his right hand inside special sleeve, apparently receiving some sort of treatment.
Both players have steadily increased their workload at practices and have been seen shooting jumpers over the last week or so.
McGary has been out on the floor working a lot too and it's believed he also is very close to returning to action. Perry Jones, however doesn't appear to be anywhere close to getting back out on the floor after what's been described as a bruised knee suffered about three weeks ago.
“I have no injury update on Perry,” Brooks said. “He hasn’t participated in any parts of practice. He’s just with our medical staff. Just a normal rehab process for his knee. That’s the only thing I know of right now.”
The Thunder will practice today and perhaps Brooks will be able to shed more light on the status of his superstars but until those medical re-evaluations are completed sometime this week even he won't know how much longer his team will have to play shorthanded.