Remember how Russell Westbrook had to have a second knee surgery to clean up a loose stitch and that was going to force him to miss the first month of the season or so?
What they meant was two games.
Westbrook has cleared all his medical benchmarks and is physically ready to go, so he will play Sunday night at home when the Thunder host the Phoenix Suns, tweets Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. He has been out since tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee during the first round of the playoffs last year against Houston.
There had been reports of him looking good in practice for a week but the Thunder have been cautious with their timetables. They didn’t want to rush him back, they need him right.
Oklahoma City started the season 1-1 without Westbrook, relying on the Kevin Durant show to win games, but they are vastly more dangerous with Westbrook on the court as an option. The Thunder don’t exactly run complex, Spurs-like sets, they just rely on you not being able to match up with their stars. That worked to the tune of 60 wins last season, thank you very much.
Expect a little rust on Westbrook, no matter how he has looked in practice and workouts it’s not the same as game speed (just ask Derrick Rose, although his ACL was a more serious injury). Plus, the Suns have played surprisingly good defense in their first two games (opponents are shooting 38.6 percent overall and 30.2 percent from three).
Still, in a deep West where lost games could hurt playoff seedings, his speedy recovery is huge.
In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.
Casspi also broke his thumb and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.
Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Ryan Kelly and guard Lamar Patterson to multiyear contracts.
Patterson provides depth across the perimeter, including at point guard. He previously signed two 10-day contracts with the team, most recently on Feb. 8. He has averaged 2.3 points in four games.
The 6-foot-11 Kelly has played in nine games with the Hawks after signing Oct. 31.
The Hawks now have their maximum 15 players. They traded forward Mike Scott to the Suns on Thursday, leaving two vacant roster spots.
Kelly and Patterson are expected to be available when the Hawks play Miami on Friday night.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, “America meet Javale “BUM” McGee.”
O’Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would “smack” McGee’s “bum a–.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq “childish” while calling out the retired center’s free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.
Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat late Thursday night, when McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.
For a couple of seasons now, teams have tried to beat the Golden State Warriors by making the game ugly — slow, grinding, physical, and the opposite of the free-wheeling game they like. Only one team has had any real success with that strategy, and it has LeBron James on it (and even that wouldn’t have been enough if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself).
So why not beat them at their own game?
That’s what Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey thought when he added Lou Williams to the roster, he said.
There is a sense around the Warriors that the Rockets may be a bigger concern than the Spurs, because Houston can score with them. Don’t confuse that with worry in the Bay Area, they are the best team in the West if healthy, but the Rockets may be the team they face off against in the conference finals.
And if that happens, Lou Williams is going to play a significant role.