Thunder journal: Focus turns to Alex Abrines’ health entering EuroBasket –

Oklahoma City's Alex Abrines tires to defend a shot by Houston's James Harden during the NBA playoffs in April. Abrines is getting ready to play in a tournament in Europe. [PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN]

When Thunder players gathered last week on the West Coast for workouts, Alex Abrines was noticeably missing.

Abrines did not attend the Russell Westbrook-coordinated workouts in Santa Monica, California. It was always Abrines' plan to start his summer attending friends' weddings and traveling home to Spain before preparing for FIBA EuroBasket 2017. Since Friday, Abrines has been in the Spanish National Team training camp for EuroBasket, the 24-team European tournament which starts Aug. 31.

Spain, the reigning European champion, will play in seven exhibition games before its Eurobasket group-play opener against Serbia and Montenegro on Sept. 1 in Romania. Its first exhibition is Aug. 8 against Belgium in Tenerife, Spain.

What will be critical to watch is the health of Abrines following platelet rich plasma injections in his right knee in May. Abrines missed three games toward the end of the regular season with a left knee sprain, and has a history of knee soreness. He missed a game for Spain in last summer's Olympics with left knee discomfort and battled a bout of right knee tendonitis when playing for Barcelona in 2013.

Abrines told The Oklahoman in June that with extended rest he hopes he won't have to repeat the treatment for years.

It'd been four or five years since the last one, Abrines said in June. This year, we did the right thing, stopping for two weeks, then rehabbing a little bit, starting slowly. I think it's going to get better, and we don't have repeat it for the next three years at least (knocks on table).

Abrines remained relatively healthy in his first NBA season, playing in 68 of a possible 82 games while leading the Thunder in 3-point percentage (38.1 percent).

Collison likes the George gamble

While the trade of Jimmy Butler from Chicago to Minnesota or the potential of Kyrie Irving getting traded out of Cleveland can compete, the move for Paul George made by the Thunder is the biggest trade of the offseason.

It's also the biggest what if? of the summer. George can become a free agent in 2018, while players such as Butler and Irving each have two years left on their contracts. George's affinity for his native Los Angeles is well-documented, as is the Lakers having nearly $40 million in salary coming off its payroll next summer.

Just by keeping the current roster together, the Thunder is assured a Western Conference contender this season, but beyond?

Thunder veteran Nick Collison said no matter the risk factor of the George trade, he likes the move. And so does the rest of the Thunder.

You love that the front office is trying to do that to win, Collison said. As players, we're just thinking about the season, and I understand there's other decisions that have to be made for the future of the franchise, but it's the move they decided to make. I think as players, we're excited about it.

Sam's job is to put the players here. Billy's job is to coach the team. The players' job is to be ready to play. The direction that they want to go is up to them, but as a player I think you love it when they add a guy like that if you feel like it's gonna make the team better, which I do.

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Thunder journal: Focus turns to Alex Abrines' health entering EuroBasket -

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