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OKC’s Westbrook ‘progressing’ but not cleared

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook is “progressing” and getting nearer to a return Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan said on Thursday, but has not been cleared for full contact practice yet leaving his status for their opening game next week against the Golden State Warriors in question.

“Every day for him, he feels better and better,” Donovan said. “I don’t want to say [if he’ll be ready by next Tuesday], 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.”

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Sept. 12 with a timetable set of four weeks until a re-evaluation. He was re-evalauated this week, and while Westbrook has been participating in more parts of practice — described as “controlled contact” portions — he still needs to clear more benchmarks before being made available.

“He’s been in controlled situations that the medical staff has allowed him to do,” Donovan said. “And hopefully with the way he responds physically after going through a workout, they’ll be able to add a little bit more and more.”

It’s possible Westbrook could miss the Thunder’s first few games as the Thunder will be in no rush to get Westbrook back, especially with a capable starting caliber player like Dennis Schroder available to step in during his absence.

Westbrook, 29, holds career averages of 23.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game in 748 appearances.

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