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

You talk about the protocol that you have that he's going through.  Can you give us a little insight into some of the things that that involves?

Yeah, I'll do my best.  I think primarily it's getting to the point where he's being put in game‑like conditions when he's capable of that to replicate those situations on the floor.  Obviously his conditioning is another aspect because he has not done hardly anything recently other than some low‑impact training.

In most of his recovery, as I said earlier, is based on the fact that the swelling is starting to decrease a little bit.  He had an excessive amount of swelling in Los Angeles that night, and when that starts to clear, I think you get a better understanding as to what the injury is really presenting and what the limitations are functionally and how much of that was due to the swelling and how much of that is due to the isolated area in which he suffered the injury.

He'll go through ‑‑ I'm sorry, I'm not answering your question directly, but he'll go through a battery of tests such as game‑like conditions, conditioning, and a lot of that is how he feels the following morning and what he's able to tolerate.

Are there things in treatment that ‑‑ is it a rest thing?  Can you do things in trying to treat that and reduce the swelling that you've done?

You know, I think, again, nothing different than what normal people would do, I think.  One thing we just can't underscore enough, and I try to say this as much as I can when we're talking about these things, is one, everybody is different.  Everybody reacts differently to different injuries.  The locations, the science of a centimeter or less of where these things take place, that all factors in, and then I think we also have to recognize that not only are people different but you're talking about a 24‑, 25‑year‑old professional athlete that's incredibly highly conditioned and has been for the majority of his adult life, and sometimes those things can contribute.  But if we could give you specifics all the time, we would.  But we're learning on these things, as well, because sports medicine is something that is hard to grasp at times.

We've heard that with this type of injury the chance of reinjury is one of the biggest concerns. Are you thinking maybe that's less now as you find out more about what the specific deal is with Serge?

Well, I think with any player that has an injury of any variety, you're always going to be concerned with that.  That's one of the first things that you think about, and that's why you go through these steps I would say to try and get a better handle on that.  And as we talked about earlier, understanding the function or functionality of the athlete is critical, and we're going to do everything we can as we learn more to put him in position to be successful and guard against that.  Of course we can only control what we can control, and that's why we layer the processes with as many different checks and balances as possible.  He's made enough progress for us to adjust the status.  The alternative would be to ignore his progress on the account of the fact that we initially thought it would be a longer duration.  We're choosing not to do that.  We're trying to honor the assessment, honor the clinicians, honor the way that the athlete is presenting himself physically, with the understanding that that's the information that we have at our disposal.

If there's more on that, we'll update you.  Obviously it would be convenient for us to not provide the information and if he were ever healthy enough to play in a game, to release that an hour before the game, but in this case, we don't think that that was the way to handle it because previously we had deemed him out, and we can't deem him out, so therefore we are making this announcement.

If you decide to bring him back, could it be in like a smaller capacity, 12 minutes, little spurts, or could you play him as a starter?

I think the fact that I have never even considered that question tells you kind of where we are.  I would have no way to be able to answer that.

What I can tell you is he's done some light shooting.  He's done a little lateral movement and some low‑impact or no‑impact conditioning work.  Beyond that, it would be really outside of my realm to try to speculate on that, as much as ‑‑ I don't even wish I could.  It's just kind of where we are.  The information that we've been working with, he's exceeded that.  We're excited about that.  We're a little surprised by it, but you know, he does a lot of things at a level that are not normal, and in this case he's improving, and we can't rule him out, so we have to honor what we're seeing and be consistent with what he's presenting functionally.