OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook’s status for Friday’s preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans is still uncertain, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Thursday.
Westbrook is still rehabbing from the platelet-rich plasma injections he received in his left knee shortly before the start of training camp. He returned to participating in contact work earlier this week and went through a full practice Thursday. The team did not practice Wednesday after its preseason-opening, 104-97 loss to the Houston Rockets.
The reigning MVP isn’t the only Thunder player whose status for Friday is uncertain, either.
Shooting guard Alex Abrines, who missed Tuesday’s loss with a mild strain in his left knee, participated in non-contact work Thursday. Power forward Patrick Patterson, who is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery in his left knee, is also being limited to non-contact work.
Center Steven Adams, who got banged in an area he referred to as the “glute-ish” one during Tuesday’s game, went through full practice Thursday and is good to go against the Pelicans. He did not return to the Rockets game after Houston guard James Harden pulled him to the ground on a hard foul.
• No problems: Carmelo Anthony hasn’t played a game alongside Westbrook yet, and though he may not get his first chance until some time after Friday, he’s not exactly freaking out about the recovery of one of the world’s greatest athletes.
“Russell is not a guy that I’m worried about [or] I think anyone anyone else should be worried about,” Anthony said. “If he takes two months off, he’ll come back and still go. He’s just physically, genetically, he’s a specimen. When he gets out there, what he do bring is another attack mentality on the offensive end, somebody you use [as] another threat, somebody that you have to keep an eye on at all times.”
• Long-distance friendships: Former Thunder player and current New York Knick Lance Thomas recently wrote a goodbye and thank you to Anthony in the Players’ Tribune. And it didn’t just get to Knicks or Thunder fans, either. It got to Anthony, too, who Thomas said reached out to him after the piece was published.
“I talk to Lance everyday. He’s one of my best friends not just in basketball, but in life in general,” Anthony said. “I usually don’t read stuff like that, but he texted me and told me I should read it. It was good. He’s a guy that knows me as a person more than a basketball player. So, he was coming from a more personable perspective, from a friend’s perspective.”
• More refs: The G-League will be experimenting with using four referees to call games this season, the NBA announced.
It’s not the first time the G-League has implemented the idea. It used either four or five refs to officiate nine different games last season.
Currently, the NBA uses three officials to referee games. There has, however, been a quiet movement inside the league during recent years to see what a four-ref format might look like. Implementing the format would mean hiring more officials as well as teaching a new strategy to officiating.
Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as a host of the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.