OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook is “progressing” and getting nearer to a return, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Thursday, but has not been cleared for full-contact practice yet, leaving the All-Star point guard’s status for the season opener in question.
“Every day for him, he feels better and better,” said Donovan, whose team will visit the Golden State Warriors next Tuesday. “I don’t want to say [if he’ll be ready]. I know you guys want to know that, but that’s too far out and there will be a lot of things that will go into that decision.
“There’s certain things he’ll have to go through to get himself fully cleared to play, but he’s certainly moving in the right direction and he’s worked really hard at his rehab to get himself back.”
Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Sept. 12. He was re-evaluated this week, and although Westbrook has been participating in more parts of practice — described as “controlled contact” portions — he still needs to clear more benchmarks before being available to play.
“He’s been in controlled situations that the medical staff has allowed him to do,” Donovan said. “And hopefully with the way he responds physically after going through a workout, they’ll be able to add a little bit more and more.”
It’s possible Westbrook could miss the first few games for the Thunder, who have a capable, starting-caliber player like Dennis Schroder available to step in during his absence.
Westbrook, 29, holds career averages of 23.0 points, 8.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds in 748 games.