This is bad news for the Thunder — not “the season is lost, woe is me” kind of news but for a team with championship aspirations it is a step back.
Russell Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to reduce swelling on Tuesday, the team announced.
The big news — it pushes back his recovery timetable to the point he will miss a month to six weeks of the regular season. He will be back somewhere around Thanksgiving, and even then history suggests it will take a month or so of playing in games to get his feel back.
Westbrook first suffered an injury in a collision with Patrick Beverly of the Rockets during the playoffs. With Westbrook out and defenses able to load up on Kevin Durant, the Thunder were eliminated in the second round.
The Tuesday surgery showed the meniscus healed properly but there were other things to be cleaned up, Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a conference call, as reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
“The origin of the swelling that was discovered was caused by the presence of a loose stitch…”
“Although we lost a little bit of time, we gained a tremendous amount of confidence in the recovery and the knee itself…”
“We all know (Westbrook). His work and his diligence through this process has been nothing short of spectacular.”
Westbrook — an All-Star and Olympian who averaged 23.2 points and 7.4 assists a game last season — should be back for the second half of the season and a playoff run. In a deep Western Conference the lack of Westbrook to start the season could cost the Thunder playoff seeding slots.
While he is out a lot falls on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson the third-year player out of Boston College who averaged 14 minutes a game last season but was going to be asked to do a lot more this year with Kevin Martin (the replacement for James Harden) gone. Behind Jackson are Derek Fisher and rookie Diante Garrett.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.