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.
Cavaliers sign forward Derrick Williams to second 10-day contract
The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.
The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.
Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.
The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.
Hornets’ Miles Plumlee out at least two weeks with leg injury
The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.
They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.
So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.
And now he’ll add even less.
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.
Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.
Report: Bulls pushing to trade for 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor
Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.
Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.
Report: 76ers trading Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for Tiago Splitter, picks
Atlanta stills sound intent on keepingPaul Millsap, so Ilyasova will likely back him up. Ilyasova should work particularly well with Dwight Howard, whose interior play was a key factor in ushering in this stretch-four era by covering for the lighter power forward next to him.
In the last 21 months, Ilyasova has been traded five times: from the Bucks to the Pistons to the Magic to the Thunder to the 76ers and now to the Hawks. They can probably count on the veteran to settle in quickly as they try to improve their position in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Atlanta is fifth, closer to third than sixth.
Both Ilyasova and Splitter have expiring contracts. The advantage of Splitter, who has missed the Hawks’ last 90 games, is that his full compensation counts toward the floor apparently without Philadelphia actually having to play all of his salary.
Plus, those picks could help the 76ers in a season where they can win something meaningful — like the Hawks have decided this season is for them.