Russell Westbrook underwent successful surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee on Saturday, Oklahoma City officially announced. He will make a full recovery. That’s the good news if you’re an Oklahoma City Thunder fan.
He will be out for these entire playoffs. That’s the bad news.
The question of his return really couldn’t be known until the surgeon opened up his knee and got a good look at the tear and what kind of repair would be done (remove the damage or sew it up, essentially). There was no timetable given by the Thunder for his return outside of missing this postseason.
Westbrook and the Thunder needed to make the long-term decision here, fix it and not rush him back. Westbrook is 24, Kevin Durant is 24 and both are locked up with long-term deals — the Thunder have a long championship window. They need to think about next season and the five beyond that, not this playoff push.
It appears the Thunder did that.
Reggie Jackson will get the start in Westbrook’s place (and he’s been solid). This could mean more Derek Fisher on the court as well.
The injury occurred midway through the second quarter of the Thunder’s Game 2 win over the Rockets. These playoffs have had a rash of injuries that have sidelined star players — Kobe Bryant, David Lee and of course guys who have been out longer such as Rajon Rondo or Derrick Rose — and it’s sucked some of the joy out of the postseason. This injury opens up the Western Conference, where the Thunder went from the favorites to very beatable.
Steve Kerr says Andrew Bogut needs to stay out of foul trouble
Steve Kerr needs a lot of things to go differently Thursday night if his defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors want to avoid elimination. That starts with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green needing to play much, much better.
But another is for Andrew Bogut to stay on the court — the Warriors defense is 15.9 points per 100 possessions better this series when he is on the court compared to off it. The Warriors are outscoring the Thunder when he plays.
“He’s fouling,” Kerr said. “He’s got 13 fouls in 56 minutes. He’s almost fouling out of every game in 10-15 minutes. He’s got to be smarter with his fouls. We need him out there — he was plus-7 (Tuesday) night in 11 minutes…
“When he’s out there, we rebound better,” he said. “We’ve got a good passer out of the post. We want to play Bogut more, but he’s got to stay on the floor.”
It’s not that simple for Bogut — the Thunder are aggressively attacking the rim and in the NBA the aggressors usually get the calls. Certainly Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, and the rest of the Thunder front line is more athletic than Bogut.
Doesn’t matter, Bogut must figure out a way to impact shots in the paint, grab boards, and not foul. The Warriors are not winning this series going small, and if they are going to mount any comeback with a big on the court, it’s going to have to start with Bogut.
Jason Terry thinks Dwight Howard could remain with Rockets
Dwight Howard has a player option this summer, which he is expected to exercise and become a free agent. For one thing, he’d do it for the pay raise — he wants a max contract, starting at about $30 million. The other reason is he and James Hardenhave not blended in Houston, and Howard wants a fresh start.
“I wouldn’t rule (a return) out. He has yet to opt out. Again, it’s just going to depend on if you get the right coach in there. At this point in his career, he’s not going to be the focal point offensively. They’ve made that clear. He’s gonna have to, if he remains in Houston, buy into the role fully, commit himself to setting screens, rebounding, running the floor, blocking shots and working on his free throws, obviously.”
In theory, a coach could come in and convince Howard to stay. In theory, I could capture Bigfoot and prove his existence to the world. Those have about the same odds of happening.
Forgetting the whole “Howard wants another max contract” thing, what Terry said about Howard accepting a role is the issue. Howard said he went directly to Rockets GM Daryl Morey and asked for a bigger role — and he was shot down. Howard does not want to accept a lesser role where his primary job is rebounding and defense, just like he never wanted to accept running more pick-and-roll and working less from the post even though he was much better at the former than the latter. Howard wants what Howard wants.
And I’d be shocked if he doesn’t want out of Houston.
Watch LeBron James’ 23 points during Game 5 win over Toronto