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Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Presti talks Serge Ibaka injury status

On Friday,Thunder general manager Sam Presti answered questions from the media about the injury status of Serge Ibaka. Here's the full transcript:
staff reports Modified: May 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm •  Published: May 23, 2014

photo - Thunder general manager Sam Presti speaks to the media during his preseason availability at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center, 9600 N. Oklahoma Ave., in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Thunder general manager Sam Presti speaks to the media during his preseason availability at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center, 9600 N. Oklahoma Ave., in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Here’s the full transcript from Sam Presti’s media availability Friday in Oklahoma City:

SAM PRESTI: Well, first just want to thank everybody for coming this morning.  Obviously we put out a press release a little earlier today, upgrading Serge's status from being ruled out to day‑to‑day.  Obviously we're really pleased with the progress that he's made.  We're excited for him.  We know how hard he has worked in a short amount of time to give himself every opportunity to improve.
At the same time we're surprised that we're here, although grateful that he's made enough progress for us to say that he's not ruled out.  I think it's important when you look at this to recognize that we're not saying that he's playing, but we're really trying to indicate that the information is telling us that we can't rule him out, and part of that is due in part, as I said earlier, because he's been incredibly compliant with the program that's been put in place.  Our staff has done an excellent job.  They try to take advantage of every opportunity to give him an opportunity to improve.

And a big part of this, as well, is just the fact that the swelling in his calf has reduced incredibly rapidly, more so than any of us could have expected or our medical staff could have projected, and as a result of that, he's demonstrating a function level, stability level that's better than we thought where we would be.

At this point in time, what I can tell you is he's not going through practice.  He's not going through contact.  He's doing some light drills.  He's doing some light shooting.  He's not having setbacks at this stage.

So we really ‑‑ in our best efforts, are trying to pass along the information that we have at our disposal given that exchange a little bit.  With that I'd take any questions.

Q. Can you talk about the last few days and just how the progress has been to get you guys to this point?

A: Sure.  Again, when these things happen, there's a program that gets put in place.  Serge is probably one of, if not our most compliant and most diligent workers in that respect.  Anyone that's been around him for his duration here knows the way he works.
But I also think any time you're dealing with professional athletes or human beings in general, everybody reacts and heals differently.  We accept that as part of sports medicine.  It's a difficult part of what we're doing.  In this case we're really happy about the fact that he's obviously quick in this case to recover.

But I want to keep stressing, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's practicing with the team and that this is important to us that we're providing the information, because what we can't do is we can't rule him out, and what we're trying to do is provide the information because it's different than what we had initially been working with.

So a day ago, two days ago, did you get a sense that he might get to this point?

We knew that the swelling was decreasing, which was allowing for our clinicians and our medical staff to get a better understanding of the injury and the function that it was allowing him to perform.  That wasn't the case certainly recently.  But we're at the point now, as he goes through his tests and hits benchmarks that we have in place, he's showing enough progress to shift him from out to day‑to‑day.  It's really a step‑by‑step process.  Each day he'll do what he can, and we'll monitor it from there and we'll do our best to keep people updated when there is a significant change.

What specifically do you need to see for him to get to the point where he can play?

You know, that's, again, a real delicate spot for me just because medically I'm just not trained to answer those types of questions.  We have a medical staff that handles that 24 hours a day, puts those things in place.  Obviously I get updated on it, and based on where we are now, we thought the right thing to do was to provide the information that we have because we can't rule him out.

Would you categorize him as a longshot or even a possibility for Sunday?

The best way for me to answer that question is to say that we can't rule him out.  His progress in the last several days has been surprising.  I don't think any of us thought we'd be standing here talking about this.  We're grateful that we are, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to have him back, but we also can't definitively say he's going to miss the entire postseason, either.

Is it about how much pain or discomfort he can play through?

I think dealing with the swelling, and I can't put myself in Serge's shoes, but this is really just going to be a medical decision.  I think we know how competitive he is, but we also understand that that's why we have these protocols and practices in place.  That's why we have the imaging that we have.  And with all the information compiled, I have complete trust in our medical staff to make the best decision and put him in a position to be successful.

But I think he's working as diligently as he possibly can, and that's not a surprise.

From what you've seen in practice, how has he looked, or at least in the light shooting?

Well, again, one thing that I try not to do is pretend I have a medical degree.  When you're watching players or evaluating.  That's why we have the staff that we have, and we're going to allow them to give us the information that's necessary to make that decision.

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