It is now official that Russell Westbrook will return to the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight vs. the Miami Heat.
Thunder GM Sam Presti made the announcement this afternoon.
“We are all very excited to have Russell back,” Presti said in a statement. “He has worked extremely hard throughout his rehabilitation, and his addition will allow us to build on the progress we have made in his absence. As Russell integrates back into the team we are going to manage the transition by building his minutes over time and will evaluate his availability in back-to-back situations. These steps are an effort to control the areas of his return to play where feasible, given the reduced practice and conditioning time during the regular season. Our goal is to create the best foundation for Russell and the team as we head into the postseason.”
Westbrook hasn’t played since Christmas Day when he had a triple-double against the New York Knicks.
The original timetable set regarding Westbrook’s return after he had his third operation on his knee was after the All-Star Break. This is as soon after the All-Star Break as possible.
We’ve known for awhile that Westbrook was probably returning for this game. It’s just official now.
This is probably the toughest possible matchup for Westbrook to return for. Miami will defend the Thunder as well as any team in the league. Westbrook was a bit rusty when he played his first game of the season and in those first few games, his handle wasn’t very sharp, he turned it over a lot and didn’t shoot well from the outside.
It’ll take a few games for Westbrook to get to 100 percent in terms of productivity. I think we can expect him athletically to look 100 percent tonight though.
The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CST and air nationally on TNT.