Already without Kevin Durant for an extended time, the Thunder are going to have to survive without Russell Westbrook, who is expected to miss at least a month after fracturing a bone in his hand last night.
The word from NewsOK.com had Westbrook potentially missing four to six weeks after fracturing the second metacarpal in his right hand in Oklahoma City's 93-90 loss to the Clippers. ESPN's medical analyst says it could be as long as eight weeks, if the bone requires surgery to stabilize.
Westbrook appeared to injure himself going for his own offensive rebound, striking his hand on Kendrick Perkins's back. He was clearly in pain, and removed himself from the game a few minutes later—which is when he got into it with a fan. He briefly returned to the bench in the second half with an icepack, and was wearing a soft cast when he left the arena without talking to the press.
So, this obviously sucks, because we were looking forward to Westbrook, freed from pressure to defer to anyone, straight-up ruining everybody's shit. It sucks more for the Thunder, who will have to survive the month of November, and likely more, without the services of Westbrook or Durant, who when healthy accounted for more than half of the team's scoring last year.
Also out for an extended period are Mitch McGary, Anthony Morrow, Grant Jerrett, while Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb should return to the lineup sooner rather than later. What's left is not inspiring:
The eight remaining players consist of one borderline All-Star (Serge Ibaka), two defensive-oriented big men (Kendick Perkins and Nick Collison), three largely unproven players who possess promise (Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Perry Jones), one journeyman (Sebastian Telfair) and one training camp survivor (Lance Thomas).
"It's unfortunate the way it is right now, but that's the way it is," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We have to figure out how we can improve and get better from all of our experiences. And this is going to be a tough one, but the good teams, good players bounce back through adversity."
Because of the number of players out for long periods, the Thunder will soon become eligible for—and plan to apply for—two separate hardship exemptions, which will allow them to add two players to their roster. That'll help, as will what should be a relatively forgiving stretch of schedule. But the West is tough, and even if the Thunder get both stars back at 100 percent before Christmas, they can't afford to dig too deep a hole. The fact that a huge part of the digging-out will fall on Sebastian Telfair is probably the scariest thought of all.