When will Russell Westbrook return? ‘Nobody knows’ says Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.– Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni offered both honesty and uncertainty on when All-Star guard Russell Westbrook will return after spending the past week sidelined because of a strained right quadricep.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take, and if it’s going to take a little bit,” said D’Antoni, whose Rockets (1-0) play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in Game 2 of their first-round NBA playoff series. “He’s been working hard and is feeling better everyday. The images are looking better, but I think it’s too early to say how many days he’s out. Nobody knows.”

Westbrook had an MRI on Tuesday, and D’Antoni reported he “feels a lot better” after completing conditioning drills and stationary bike exercises in recent days. Westbrook has still attended team practices and told Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James that his quad felt “good” when the two had a playful exchange during a post-practice interview on Monday.

After feeling soreness in his right quad following Houston’s loss to Portland on Aug. 4, Westbrook played two more games before the Rockets had him take an MRI that revealed he had a strained quad. He has since missed the Rockets’ past three games. Westbrook also arrived on the NBA’s Disney campus in the middle of resuming training camp because he tested positive for COVID-19 before the team left for Orlando in early July.  

“Just keep strengthening it and he’ll go a little bit on how he feels,” D’Antoni said. “I’m sure the next step will be on the court at some point. I don’t want to be negative. Nobody knows if it’s just two days, four or five days. Nobody knows yet. The thigh will tell him that, but he is progressing.”

After acquiring the nine-time All-Star from Oklahoma City last summer for Chris Paul, Westbrook has averaged 27.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

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