When the news first came out that Russell Westbrook had undergone another surgery on his right knee, the initial timetable was that he would be returning after the All-Star Break.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting that a return date has been set and that is Feb. 20 when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Miami Heat.
There’s a post-All-Star break target date set for Westbrook, sources told Yahoo Sports – as soon as Feb. 20, hosting the Miami Heat – and a part of this process makes an old Los Angeles Lakers championship guard press rewind and return 13 years.
The Thunder are currently on a 10-game winning streak and have looked like the best team in the NBA in the month of January, thanks mostly to Kevin Durant looking like the best player in the NBA.
During this streak, the Thunder have beaten Miami, San Antonio, Golden State, Houston and Portland. So, it’s not like they’ve just caught a break with an easy schedule.
Westbrook returned much sooner than expected when he came back on Nov. 3, just the third game of the season. He was originally expected to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season. The Thunder looked like they were in desperate need of help after losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves by 19 in their second game of the season, and that result may have been a big reason why Westbrook came back so soon.
With the Thunder playing so well of late, there has been no feeling that they need Westbrook back ASAP. A return on Feb. 20 would be after All-Star Weekend, which is Feb. 14-16.
A home game vs. Miami seems like the perfect time to get Westbrook back.
Even though the Thunder beat Miami 112-95 last week, it was still not a pretty game overall for OKC. It was very difficult for them to find much rhythm on offense. They made 16 three-pointers which overshadowed those difficulties. Miami turned the ball over 20 times, too, which was uncharacteristic of them.
There is absolutely no logic to thinking OKC is better off without Westbrook. When he gets back, it will only get easier for everyone else, including Durant and especially Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb.