By Randy Renner
It didn't take long from the time Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka was declared out for the playoffs that rumors started flying that maybe he wasn't done for the playoffs afterall, in fact maybe he wasn't even done for the Western Conference Finals.
Some national writers, most prominently Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, wrote stories suggesting Ibaka could be back in the lineup much earlier than most anyone believed.
After Monday's loss to the Spurs in Game 1, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of Ibaka, "he's out and he's not coming back."
Today during shootaround in San Antonio Brooks was again asked about Ibaka and the possibility of a much earlier return for OKC's thunderous shot blocker.
"He's not coming back, nothing has changed," he told reporters who wouldn't stop asking and then he asked basically to stop asking.
"There's no reason to keep bringing this up, he's not coming back."
Maybe not, but Ibaka did stay in Oklahoma City so he could work on healing his injury and his rehab instead of making the trip to San Antonio. Other players have done that too but that was back during the regular season with lots of games remaining instead of late in the playoffs with the schedule running out. Still maybe there's nothing to read into Ibaka's zeal.
And then maybe there is. Remember what Russell Westbrook said about his own rehab when asked questions about his return, "I never knew about any timetable," he said after the All-Star Break. "Whenever I was ready I was ready and that's when I was gonna play."
Maybe Ibaka doesn't know about any timetable either or isn't paying attention to one. Hopefully the Thunder can keep playing long enough to give Ibaka a fighting chance to prove everyone wrong, while chucking any injury timetable out the window.
NO LINEUP CHANGES FOR THUNDER
Also during Coach Brooks' chat with reporters after shootaround he said he'd be using the same starters tonight as in Game 1, meaning Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison.
After what happened on Monday there's been speculation that Brooks might change things up, maybe Perry Jones or Steven Adams instead of Collison or as we saw in the Memphis series Caron Butler for Thabo.
What we may see instead is a different pattern for substitutions and maybe more minutes for some and maybe less for others. Brooks also said the bottom line is for guys to "play better."