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Thunder’s Russell Westbrook still not cleared for full contact, putting status for season open vs. Warriors in doubt

Russell Westbrook, Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan told reporters Thursday that while star point guard Russell Westbrook is progressing every day from his arthroscopic knee surgery, the explosive guard has not been cleared for full-contact practice yet, leaving Westbrook’s status for the season opener against the Golden State Warriors in question.

Westbrook underwent surgery on his right knee on Sept. 12 and was just re-evaluated by doctors. It was the fourth procedure Westbrook has had on his right knee following a collision with Patrick Beverley in the 2013 playoffs that resulted in a meniscus tear. Westbrook underwent three surgeries on the knee in a nine-month span.

However, it had been four and a half years since any surgery was performed on Westbrook’s knee prior to the September procedure.

“Every day for him, he feels better and better,” said Donovan, via Royce Young of ESPN. “I don’t want to say [if he’ll be ready]. I know you guys want to know that, but that’s too far out and there will be a lot of things that will go into that decision.

“There’s certain things he’ll have to go through to get himself fully cleared to play, but he’s certainly moving in the right direction and he’s worked really hard at his rehab to get himself back.”

Donovan says Westbrook is doing “controlled” contact at the moment. If Westbrook is unable to play versus the Warriors, the Thunder will start Dennis Schröder at the point guard spot. OKC acquired Schröder in the offseason from the Atlanta Hawks in the Carmelo Anthony trade.

Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for two seasons in a row, and won the 2017 MVP award. Last season, Westbrook posted averages of 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game during the regular season. The 29-year-old shot 44.9 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from beyond the arc and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Despite Westbrook’s stellar numbers the past two years, the Thunder have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.