“I think it's way too early to look at that right now,” Presti said. “I think what we're looking at first and foremost is getting him back on the floor this season when he's healthy ... But I think we also just have to recognize that given that we're in this situation right now, I think it's fair to say we need to be flexible and understand that there could be more management of the situation.”
Westbrook had not been experiencing any pain, according to Presti, and had showed no sign of troublesome symptoms. He had been producing at an extraordinary level, with averages of 21.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists in his last 10 games.
In his last game, a 29-point road win over New York on Christmas Day, Westbrook became only the fifth player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Christmas.
In 25 games this season, Westbrook is averaging 21.3 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
“We know that Russell’s work ethic and commitment will help him return to the level of play that we have all come to appreciate,” Presti said.
Third-year point guard Reggie Jackson will again start in place of Westbrook. It's a role Jackson filled after Westbrook sustained the original injury in the first round of the playoffs and again in the first two games of the regular season. Jackson is having a career year this season, averaging 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists. His emergence, coupled with strong play by second-year guard Jeremy Lamb and rookie center Steven Adams, has helped keep the Thunder at the top of the league standings despite the departure of former sixth man Kevin Martin.
Oklahoma City had won 18 of its last 20 games and entered Friday's game at Charlotte with a 23-5 record, second best in the West behind only Portland.
“As a team, we're going to approach this with the same frame of mind that we have each time that we've been dealt a setback as an organization, as a team,” Presti said. “And I'd expect us to delve into it and to find a way to actually improve from this adversity, because a lot of our progress as a team has come from some of the things that have been thrown our way.”
On conference call, Presti says post All-Star break timeline doesn't mean Westbrook will be back in first game after All-Star weekend.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) December 27, 2013