Kevin Durant isn't going to like this.
Derrick Rose, who only just returned from a torn ACL he suffered in 2012, advised the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook not to rush back from his right knee injury, according to ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell.
"Take his time. He's the only one that knows his body," Rose said, via Friedell. "There's no need to force anything. And attack every day of rehab like it's your last day. Get everything you [can] get out of it every day."
Patience, they say, is a virtue. But that doesn't mean it's easy to endure.
Oklahoma City plays in the wildly deep Western Conference. The longer the Thunder are forced to play on without Westbrook, and the longer Durant will be forced to play on his own, the more likely it is the team loses ground in the conference standings.
Westbrook is already scheduled to miss the first four-to-six weeks of the regular season after undergoing successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He partially participated in a recent Thunder practice, per The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater, exciting many of his teammates.
"One of the dunks (today), he went up and looked like the old Russell, plus some, head at the rim," Reggie Jackson said of Westbrook's practice session, via Slater. "We’ll be happy when he gets back fully healthy, but it’s good to see him with a smile on his face, being about the team, bouncing back and happy to be back on the court."
Going on 25, the Thunder won't put Westbrook's future at risk. Together, he and Durant are the two reasons why they remain a fixture in the championship picture.
We saw what the Thunder looked like without him in the playoffs last season, and it wasn't pretty. Necessary precautions will be taken to ensure he doesn't return too soon.
Still, there's an urgency for Oklahoma City to win now. Fans won't want to see Westbrook remain incapacitated beyond the timetable provided.
The Thunder have a top-two superstar in Durant to keep them afloat in the meantime, a luxury the Bulls weren't afforded in Rose's absence. But the Western Conference isn't the East. Sustaining a respectable record won't be easy. And if the Thunder fall too far behind early, they may not be able to recover in time to land a top-two or -three playoff seed.
At the same time, Westbrook would be wise to keep Rose's advice in mind.
Rose's decision to sit all of last season sent waves throughout the Association, but he's returned just as explosive and ready to play. Clearly, there was an advantage to waiting.
"For sure," Rose said, per Friedell. "He has that type of will. His frame, his body, I think [the rehab] is just going to help him become a better player."
Better is great. Better in a timely fashion is, well, even better.
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