Neither Oladipo, Nor Payne, Expected Back For Roadtrip
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Injured Thunder guards Victor Oladipo and Cameron Payne continue to progress on their road back from injuries but head coach Billy Donovan doesn’t expect to have either player available in the next few days so neither is expected to be able to play during OKC's roadtrip this week to Miami (Tuesday) and Memphis (Thursday).
“Victor is still having discomfort and pain, he’s getting better but nothing’s changed as far as him being available to play (Tuesday night). Cameron is cutting, moving, shooting, he’s doing more of those things but he’s not in any contact stuff at all.”
Payne has missed all season after fracturing a bone in his right foot early in training camp and Oladipo has now missed seven full games and three quarters of another since badly spraining his right wrist against the Boston Celtics a couple of weeks ago.
Donovan indicated with Payne it’s probably more getting back into basketball playing shape than anything else since he’s missed so much time, “his is more the normal steps he has to follow before he can get himself back on the court and playing,” Donovan said.
With Oladipo, the pain of that sprained wrist, especially with certain shooting motions, is the major issue.
“He just has a really, really hard time following through (on his shooting motion) especially the further he moves away from the basket the more painful it is for him,” Donovan said. “The more he has to really flick his wrist that’s where he really struggles.”
Oladipo has practiced on a very limited basis, mostly in walk-through type scenarios.
“If we’re doing shell positioning and the ball is being kinda passed around he’s out there doing that. If we can pout him in in those type situations then yeah we’ll throw him in there but we’re not putting him in a situation where we’re putting his hand in any kind of discomfort.”
So no contact, no full speed work that would involved shooting or quick passing.
“Victor is the kinda guy, just being around him, he would play hurt. He’s that kinda guy as a competitor he’d wanna be out there. But I also think he also understands right now he can’t be.”
Donovan has often admitted he’s a glass half full guy, looking at how best to turn a bad situation into a better one. With two outstanding guards out of action the Thunder have been forced to some things and try some things that normally they wouldn’t have. Donovan thinks that has had a positive impact and could big dividends down the road.
“As a coach you gotta deal with who’s there and how do you take the group that’s there and how to best utilize them and help them play to their strengths. So maybe in some ways with (Oladipo’s and Payne’s( absence we’ve found out more about our team that we’ve found out some things that maybe we can do that maybe we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore or experiment with. So hopefully (their) absence has made us better.”
At 19-12 overall and winners of four of their last five games the Thunder have more than been able to tread water while two of their more important players have been out.