Russell Westbrook 'Close' to Returning from Quad Injury, Says Rockets' D'Antoni

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 25, 2020

Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook shoots the ball next to Portland Trail Blazers' Jusuf Nurkic #27 during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook is "close" to returning from his quad injury, head coach Mike D'Antoni said on Tuesday.

"As soon as they tell me he can go and he feels like he can then he'll go," D'Antoni said of Westbrook's rehab work with the Rockets' medical staff, per Mark Berman of Fox 26. "He'll work out today, get on the court, see how he feels and they'll make a determination. It's close ... They'll make a good call."

Westbrook has unavailable for the start of the Rockets' opening-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the franchise Westbrook spent the first 11 years of his NBA career with. Houston and OKC have split the first four games of the series, with Game 5 set to be played on Wednesday night.

Game 6 will be played on Friday, with a potential Game 7 to follow on Sunday if necessary.

Westbrook, who is in his first season with the Rockets, averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists during the 2019-20 campaign.

Houston finished 44-28 and landed fourth in the Western Conference.

Westbrook didn't miss a game over his first five NBA seasons but was sidelined for 36 contests in 2013-14 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He also missed 15 games in 2014-15 with a fractured metacarpal in his right hand.

He's been largely injury-free since then during a five-year span that has seen him win an NBA MVP and average a triple-double for three straight seasons.

The nine-time All-Star and two-time scoring champion is a dominant force at his best, one who has landed on All-NBA teams eight times during his likely Hall of Fame career.

He formed a good rapport with Harden in the backcourt, with the two guiding the Rockets to a top-four Western Conference seed for the fourth straight season.

Without him, expect more playing time for guards such as Austin Rivers and Ben McLemore. Harden will have to assume more usage, specifically in the shooting and passing departments. And Robert Covington or Eric Gordon will likely need to step up as the team's No. 2 scorer.