Thunder could be short-handed when Grizzlies visit
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Still fighting to figure out how to play without Andre Roberson -- a recent win over Golden State notwithstanding, the Oklahoma City Thunder could be without two other critical pieces Sunday when they host the Memphis Grizzlies.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony did not practice Saturday and are listed as questionable for the game.
Westbrook sprained his left ankle late in Tuesday's win at the Warriors, while Anthony sprained his right in the opening minutes of that game.
Both missed the Thunder's 106-81 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, Oklahoma City's most lopsided loss of the season.
If Westbrook and Anthony are out, the Thunder figure to try to change things up a bit. That included Alex Abrines spending time at point guard in practice Saturday. Westbrook's backup is Raymond Felton, with Paul George also spending time running the offense with Westbrook sidelined.
It also included using Steven Adams and Patrick Patterson together.
"You just try to work on the different combinations so there's a feel of what's going on," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
But George still figures to take on the role of both backup point guard and primary offensive option if Westbrook can't play.
Donovan said he'd like to have George initiate the offense at times even when Westbrook is healthy.
"To me, I almost look at Paul George as being a point guard just because of his vision and ability to see and make plays," Donovan said. "To me, he's a playmaker."
Oklahoma City has lost five of seven since Roberson's injury.
Memphis comes into the game having lost five in a row and seven of eight.
The Grizzlies are 11-31 this season without point guard Mike Conley, who will miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.
While the statuses of Westbrook and Anthony remain in the air, the Grizzlies figure to have guard Tyreke Evans back for the first time in six games.
Evans was held out of the games while the Grizzlies worked to orchestrate a trade of the ninth-year guard.
But Evans remained on the team after Memphis couldn't get a deal done before Thursday's deadline.
"Basically, we felt that the offers weren't sufficient for a player of Tyreke's caliber and potential," general manager Chris Wallace said. "And particularly they weren't sufficient when weighed against the potential benefits of having him here for the rest of the season. So, we decided not to do anything."
Evans leads Memphis with 19.5 points per game and said he understood the decision to try to deal him.
"I know it's a business. I know how things work and how organizations can be sometimes," Evans said Friday. "I wasn't really shocked. My friends were more worried than me."
He'll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Memphis will not have forward/center Brandan Wright, who reached a buyout agreement with the team Saturday. Wright is expected to sign with Houston.
Updated February 10, 2018