Thunder GM Sam Presti told Hoops Rumors and other reporters on a conference call today that he and his staff haven’t had an opportunity to discuss potential roster moves in the wake of an injury that will keep Russell Westbrook out until after the All-Star break. Still, Presti left the door open to the notion that he’ll fill the Thunder’s vacant roster spot now that the team has announced that Westbrook has undergone arthroscopic injury on the same knee that knocked him out of the playoffs last year.
“We never rule anything out,” he said. “We always look for ways to improve.”
Oklahoma City has 27 games left before the All-Star break, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe points out via Twitter, meaning Westbrook will miss a significant chunk of the season. Westbrook won’t necessarily return for the first game after the All-Star break, as Presti noted, and the GM adds that the injury is one that will require management for an indefinite time even after Westbrook makes it back to game action.
The Thunder are less than $1.5MM shy of the luxury tax line, but they can create additional flexibility if they let go of Ryan Gomes or Hasheem Thabeet, neither of whom have fully guaranteed contracts. The leaguewide guarantee date is January 10th, so Oklahoma City would have to make its decisions on Gomes and Thabeet by January 7th in order for them to clear waivers in time. Teams will be able to sign players to 10-day contracts starting January 6th, so perhaps Presti will go that route.
No move is imminent, and Presti said the team has a lot of confidence in Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb, both of whom have taken on significantly larger roles already this season. Still, Lamb doesn’t play point guard, and it’s unclear if the team expects him to take on more ball-handling duties in Westbrook’s absence. Derek Fisher, at age 39, is the only true point guard the team has aside from Jackson and Westbrook.