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.
After the first Toronto win, Raptors’ “Global Ambassador” (whatever that means) and highest profile fan Drake took to Instagram to troll LeBron James.
Drake flew back to his native Toronto for Game 4 and he got to see his Raptors even the series behind big nights from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. How did he celebrate? Trolling Kyrie Irving on Instagram.
If the Raptors win a third game this series, will Drake troll Kevin Love? Actually, Love did a pretty good job of trolling himself the last couple games.
Jonas Valanciunas was active in Game 4, but he didn’t play.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic
“Hopefully we can get him involved,” Casey said. “Again, it depends on the lineup they have on the court. I know he’s our starting centre but it’s tough to put him out there if they’re playing Channing Frye big minutes at the five.”
“The thing about it is with our five-man, it helps us when we have to switch, especially when they’re playing Love at the five or Frye at the five,” Casey said. “It gives us the flexibility to switch Bismack. It’s a luxury that we have that.”
Toronto won, anyway. So, there’s no griping about Valanciunas remaining stuck on the bench last night.
But Valanciunas could still help the Raptors, who were outscored by three in Game 4 when Bismack Biyombo sat.
Valanciunas’ injury will probably still limit his minutes, which is fine. There’s limited opportunity for him to be effective. As Casey said, Kevin Love and Channing Frye – who already help the Cavs get so many open 3-pointers – are tough matchups for Valanciunas.
But Valanciunas can battle Tristan Thompson inside and on the glass without getting put through the ringer on the perimeter. If Casey picks his spots when Thompson plays, Valanciunas should have a role the rest of this series – at least if he’s healthy enough to play near his standards.
The Oklahoma City Thunder went small and blew out the dreaded “death lineup” of the Warriors.
After looking completely overmatched for two games, the Toronto Raptors have evened the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yet all anyone seems to want to talk about is Draymond Green kicking Steven Adams in the nether regions, and how the league handled that. So in this latest NBC Sports/PBT Podcast Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports start with Green’s kick, move on to his poor play in general in Game 3, and discuss Game 4 and the rest of that series. Also covered is Toronto and Cleveland, plus a little talk about Nate McMillan to Indiana and Frank Vogel to Orlando.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
Draymond Green answered the first three questions he faced today – each about not being suspended for kicking Steven Adams in the groin – with: “That is a great question,” “That is a great question” and “That is a great statement.”
Then, he got a little more revealing.
Green, via Tim Kawakami of Talking Points:
I’m never going to be careful; I’m just going to be me and the game will play out the way it will play out.
Green should be more careful.
1. He’s reached the playoff limit of flagrant-foul points without being suspended. Another flagrant 1 would cost him a game and a flagrant 2 would cost him two games. Even if he didn’t intentionally kick Adams in the groin, doing the exact same thing would draw another flagrant 2. Losing Green for two games would devastate the Warriors.
2. He frequently kicks out his legs on drives. It might be more remarkable he didn’t hurt anyone before this. if you take Green at his word – and I do on this – he doesn’t want to see anyone injured. He can do his part to decrease the odds of someone getting hurt.
There’s a way for Green to play with passion/swagger/emotion/tenacity while being careful, at least careful enough to avoid being reckless. He needs to find the line.