Exactly when Russell Westbrook will be back from the torn meniscus that ended his — and essentially Oklahoma City’s — playoff run is not clear. The Thunder are part of the NBA’s new “we don’t give timelines” trend (which became popular in the wake of Andrew Bynum and Derrick Rose last season).
But we know this much — he is not cleared for basketball activity yet, likely will not be by the start of camp and could potentially miss the start of the season.
Westbrook was his usually brash self talking with the Oklahoman on Monday, but that doesn’t mean there was a timeline for his return.
“I’m going to come back and be better,” Westbrook said matter-of-factly Monday, with the same unshakable swagger he’s always shown….
Westbrook has not yet been cleared to resume full basketball activities, and neither him nor team officials are providing a timetable for when that final obstacle will be overcome.
As an organization, the Thunder have long been cautious with bringing guys back from injury, particularly young players they see as long-term parts of their foundation. The Thunder need a healthy and explosive Westbrook in April and May, so if that means he misses some games in November so be it. OKC is focused on the big picture.
GM Sam Presti said the plan is to see how he responds to workouts once training camp opens next week, then go from there. They are not going to rush anything.
The bigger question is Westbrook when he does return — will he play with that same fearless, attacking style? Probably, that’s who Westbrook is. But it may take a little time for him to fully trust his knee again.
Still, it’s about the playoffs. The Thunder want to get back to the NBA Finals and they need the old Westbrook to have any shot at that.