NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Westbrook could miss 4-6 weeks — All those questions about the depth of the Oklahoma City Thunder? The chatter is about to get even louder. The Thunder’s star point guard, Russell Westbrook, suffered a hand injury and had to leave the game last night against the L.A. Clippers. Our own Scott Howard-Cooper provided some context to what the injury might mean for OKC, and then comes this news: according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, Westbrook could miss four to six weeks as he heals up. The loss of Westbrook, combined with Kevin Durant already being out with a foot injury, spells trouble in Oklahoma:
The early indication is that Russell Westbrook could miss four to six weeks after fracturing the second metacarpal in his right hand Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
It could keep the Thunder’s electric point guard sidelined through mid-December and add him to an already ridiculously long list of injured Oklahoma City players who are expected to miss the season’s first month.
The projected recovery time would cost Westbrook 15 games on the low end and as many as 21 contests. He would rejoin the lineup between Nov. 28 and Dec. 12.
Westbrook is scheduled to undergo further tests Friday in Oklahoma City.
“It’s just really pretty unbelievable. You’re kind of just shocked almost,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison of his team’s injury-riddled roster. “It’s not funny at all, but you almost have to laugh about it just because it’s so many guys.”
In all likelihood, the Thunder will go into its home opener Saturday against Denver with just eight healthy players. Only one is a point guard. Joining veteran Sebastian Telfair are Collison, Perry Jones, Serge Ibaka, Andre Roberson, Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams and Lance Thomas.
Under the league’s hardship rule, however, teams can be granted additional roster spots and exceed the maximum of 15 players if they have been depleted by injuries. At least four players must be injured for at least two weeks and must miss at least three regular season games for a team to qualify.
Oklahoma City, which the league recently denied the hardship exception because it had not yet met the games missed criteria, certainly will be eligible now with Durant, Anthony Morrow, Mitch McGary and Grant Jerrett all set to miss Saturday’s game against the Nuggets.
With Westbrook now out for an extended period, the Thunder could soon add two players to its roster, bringing the team’s total number of players to 17.
Still, the Thunder needs help. Now.
The eight remaining players consist of one borderline All-Star (Ibaka), two defensive-oriented big men (Perkins and Collison), three largely unproven players who possess promise (Adams, Roberson and Jones), one journeyman (Telfair) and one training camp survivor (Thomas).
“It’s unfortunate the way it is right now, but that’s the way it is,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We have to figure out how we can improve and get better from all of our experiences. And this is going to be a tough one, but the good teams, good players bounce back through adversity.”
Westbrook ironically was the Thunder’s healthiest player before Thursday. Of course, Westbrook missed 36 games last season after undergoing three surgeries on his right knee in 2013.