In last week’s Blue vs. White Scrimmage for the Thunder, Cameron Payne suffered a foot injury which was later found out to be an acute fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his right foot–the same foot that Payne had surgery on earlier in the summer. The new injury is said to be unrelated to the previous one, despite them being extremely close to one another.
Payne has met with several specialists over the last few days, and, according to Sam Presti, “Cameron has chosen to pursue a non-surgical route provided by the physicians that is intended to ideally allow the bone to heal on its own and avoid surgery.” This is great news for Thunder fans, as surgery would make the recovery process significantly longer.
Presti added, “Cameron, his representatives, and the Thunder fully understand that if the bone is not healing appropriately, or if at any point there is a setback in his return to play, surgery may still be required.” A determination will be made on whether the bone is healing or if surgery is necessary in 6-8 weeks whenever the injury will be re-evaluated.
Losing Payne, even for a little bit, is a tough loss for the Thunder. Cam was expected to receive a major boost in minutes, acting as the primary backup ball-handler to Russell Westbrook. With Payne out for the first couple months of the season, NBA veteran and Thunder newcomer Ronnie Price will be the likely backup. Also, do not be surprised if Victor Oladipo manages the offense at times.
Other options for Oklahoma City may also present themselves as the season begins. The Thunder may end up qualifying for a hardship exception, which is what happened back in 2014 at the beginning of the season. A hardship occurs when a team has four players who are sick or injured and have both missed a minimum of three games and have been unable to play for a minimum of two weeks. In this situation, a team may exceed the typical 15-man roster by one player for the time in which the four players are out. As soon as one of those players is deemed healthy enough to play, a player from the roster must be released to get back down to 15 players.
Another option for the Thunder is to make a trade. Most trades do not typically occur at the beginning of a season, but Thunder GM Sam Presti is known for making moves out of nowhere to do what is best for the team. Regardless of what happens, rest assured, Thunder fans: this team is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @thethunderguys on Twitter.