Westbrook Practices Monday But Won't Play Against Houston Tuesday
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
After a scrimmage on Sunday and a preseason game coming up on Tuesday the Thunder held a fairly short practice session on Monday but the good news is Russell Westbrook participated in most of it.
"Today was the first day that he did contact so we'll see what (the medical staff says) but he looked fine out there," said head coach Billy Donovan.
"We got up and down and worked in the half court and he was there for every bit of it."
However, Westbrook will not play in Tuesday night's preseason game against the Houston Rockets. Patrick Patterson (knee) and Alex Abrines (knee) are being held out as well.
"Those three guys are definitely out but I think just for Russell it's a slow progression (after the PRP injection) there's no reason just to throw him back in so quickly but he's doing more and more," Donovan said.
Patterson is recovering from off-season knee surgery and Abrines continues to have some knee soreness, similar to what he experienced during the EuroBasket tournament.
"With both of those guys it's really hard to put a time frame on it," Donovan told reporters. "It's not something we think is long term but they're not gonna play (for a while) but I think both those guys continue to make progress towards playing, but when that day will be I don't know. Both guys are getting better."
There's no indication Patterson is having problems with his recovery from a fairly routine knee procedure but the situation with Abrines could be more concerning.
He was being counted on to be a major part of the Thunder's second unit and to likely see some court time with the first team in certain situations.
Abrines broke James Harden's rookie record for most made 3-pointers in a season and has added about 15 pounds to his frame.
With Westbrook out, Raymond Felton will be the starting point guard, joining Andre Roberson, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams as the first five on the floor against Houston.
"After going through five, six days of training camp, the scrimmage yesterday and now going up against another opponent so it's gonna fun," the veteran point guard said after Monday's practice.
And though he'll start against the Rockets and perhaps in Friday's game against New Orleans, Felton's main job will be leading the second unit and he's looking forward to that challenge.
"I got a chance to do a little of that today (with Westbrook practicing again) and I'm having conversations with those guys to let 'em know we gotta push (the starters) and make them better. Just because you got three All-Stars we still gotta push them and make them better."
That kind of buying in really impresses Donovan.
"He's really done an incredible job of investing in the young players. He really has spent time with those guys, he helps those guys. He has a great presence on the court, he has a great presence in the locker room. He's a great guy to talk to. He's really been a great addition to our team."
The Thunder will bus up to Tulsa this evening and have shoot-around Tuesday morning.
Tipoff is set for 7:10 and the game will be televisedby NBA-TV.