Thunder forward Andre Roberson continues to make progress in his attempted comeback, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. Roberson was one of the NBA’s top perimeter defenders before suffering a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee in January of 2018, then an avulsion fracture later that year. Head coach Billy Donovan offered an encouraging update as Roberson tries to return to action for the first time in 30 months.
“He’s doing great,” Donovan said. “I think he’s gaining confidence. I think he’s got confidence in where he’s at physically. I think he’s trying to gain confidence right now in terms of being out from playing competitive basketball for two years.”
The injury has kept Roberson sidelined for almost the entirety of the three-year, $30MM contract he signed in 2017. He is earning $10.74MM this season and a strong performance could make him an intriguing name on this year’s free agent market.
There’s more on the Thunder:
- Luguentz Dort was effective during his time as a starter, but there’s no guarantee he will keep that role in Orlando, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Dort began the year as a two-way player, but seized an opportunity when Terrance Ferguson missed eight games in January for personal reasons. Dort impressed OKC’s coaches with his defense and started the final 21 games before the shutdown. Dort, Ferguson and Roberson are all candidates for the starting wing spot. “Lu’s done a really good job,” Donovan said. “For me to sit here and say that he’s starting when we get back to playing, I wouldn’t say that. I’m really trying to be open-minded to let these guys play and compete and find out where they’re all at and how well they’re playing with one another.”
- No Thunder player is enjoying his time at Disney World more than 20-year-old Darius Bazley, Mussatto writes in a separate story. Part of Bazley’s excitement comes from being fully healed after missing the final 11 games before the break with a bone bruise in his right knee.
- Donovan said his younger players in particular did a great job of staying in shape during the hiatus, telling Paris Lawson of NBA.com that Dort, Ferguson, Bazley and Hamidou Diallo look different than when he last saw them in March. “You can see a physical difference I think when you’re dealing with young players that are 19, 20, 21 years old,” Donovan said. “Their maturation and how much they can develop through four, five or six months can be really amazing.”