RUSSELL WESTBROOK PARTIALLY PARTICIPATES IN THUNDER PRACTICE
For the first time since training camp started, the Thunder had its full complement of players for at least a portion of Monday's practice.
Perkins, returning from a dislocated left ring finger, was back and is expected to play Tuesday against Phoenix. But the headliner was All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who participated in on-court drills with the team for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery earlier this month.
“There were bits and pieces where Russell participated in practice, so that was good,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It was good to get everybody out there, working together.”
In recent weeks, Westbrook has been seen on the court during the portion of practice open to the media, going through light workouts with the Thunder training staff.
But on Monday, he apparently amped it up. And even in that brief setting, Reggie Jackson, the man who is replacing Westbrook in the starting lineup, seemed to be impressed.
“Oh, man. Russell today …” Jackson said when asked how Westbrook looked, cracking a sly smile. “It's actually funny. My brother and his brother talk a little before games. His brother told mine that Russell's probably bouncing better than ever. I had to see it to believe it.
“One of the dunks (today), he went up and looked like the old Russell, plus some, head at the rim. We'll be happy when he gets back fully healthy, but it's good to see him with a smile on his face, being about the team, bouncing back and happy to be back on the court.”
Publicly, OKC's front office will likely remain cautious in speeding up the timetable or expectations for Westbrook, as they have maintained a understandably cautious stance with their 25-year-old star.
But Jackson's comments seem to be a promising indication of how Westbrook is coming along.
“He's doing drill work, not necessarily too much contact,” Jackson said. “His approach is to get better every day, rehab. He's been the ultimate professional when it comes to that, so we'll be happy when he gets back. We want him to have a speedy recovery, but most importantly a full recovery.”
THABEET SUSPENDED FOR REGULAR-SEASON OPENER
After getting into a brief shoving match with Pelicans center Greg Stiemsma last Thursday in Tulsa, Hasheem Thabeet received a technical foul.
On Monday afternoon, after the league reviewed tape of the incident, Thabeet was handed a harsher punishment.
The NBA announced that OKC's back-up center would be suspended for the season-opener against Utah for his subtle headbutt of Stiemsma in the tussle.
The suspension leaves the Thunder with two available centers — starter Kendrick Perkins and rookie Steven Adams — for next Wednesday's game against the Jazz.
KEVIN DURANT TO SIT AGAINST PHOENIX
After Monday's practice, Brooks announced that Kevin Durant would get the night off on Tuesday in Phoenix, his first full game of rest this preseason.
To this point, Durant was averaging 27 minutes in the first five contests, but did sit out the entire second half on Sunday against Utah.
It was not immediately clear whether Brooks would play Durant in Wednesday's preseason finale against the Bulls in Wichita, Kan.
NATE ROBINSON FINED
Thabeet wasn't the only Thunder center involved in an NBA-sanctioned incident this past week.
On Monday, the league also announced that Nuggets guard Nate Robinson would be fined $10,000 for shoving Thunder rookie Steven Adams from behind and striking him in the chest.
The incident occurred last Tuesday during the Thunder's 109-81 win over the Nuggets in OKC. Robinson was assessed a flagrant foul and ejected for the move.
BY ANTHONY SLATER