The Norman Transcript

National Sports

September 28, 2013

Westbrook eager to come back

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook isn’t quite ready to go full speed after last season’s knee injury that left him on the bench for Oklahoma City’s second-round exit from the playoffs.

The point guard, however, isn’t about to let a little thing like his health hinder expectations for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City opens training camp today, eager to put the memories of last season’s disappointing playoff exit to rest once and for all.

It will do so with an uncertain timetable for Westbrook’s return, though he said at media day Friday that he’s already taken part in spot shooting, dribbling and running drills.

“First day of training camp, I’ll be on the floor,” Westbrook said.

General manager Sam Presti declined to put a timetable on Westbrook’s return earlier in the week, a thought echoed by coach Scott Brooks on Friday.

Brooks said Westbrook experienced some swelling in his right knee this week, but he stressed it was a common part of the recovery process. Brooks expects the sixth-year standout — who averaged 23.2 points and 7.4 assists per game last season — to be a smarter player this season after being forced to watch the Thunder’s second-round playoff exit to Memphis from the bench.

“He was able to see the game differently last year toward the end of the year,” Brooks said. “It’s not something that we all wanted him to look at the game differently, but when you’re looking at the team with an injured eye, you look at it differently. He’s been a great, positive force for all of our players during that time, and we are excited to have him back.”

The playoff loss to the Grizzlies was one of the few setbacks the Thunder have had since the arrival of three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and Westbrook. Even without sixth man James Harden last season following his trade to Houston, Oklahoma City had the best regular-season record in the West at 60-22.

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