Russell Westbrook has an impressive record of durability in the NBA, but at 32 years old, the Wizards are going to play it safe to preserve his future.
Head coach Scott Brooks revealed on Sunday ahead of his team's first preseason game that Westbrook is unlikely to play in both games of back-to-backs this season. The Houston Rockets used a similar strategy with Westbrook last season.
"This is going to be a grind. He’s not a youngster anymore even though he still has as much energy as anybody as I’ve seen," Brooks said.
There is some irony in that the Wizards traded John Wall to get Westbrook, and were planning to hold Wall out of back-to-backs. For him, it was more about the fact he was coming off a ruptured Achilles injury.
Westbrook is healthy, they just want to give him rest when possible, likely to keep him fresh this season and extend his career. That could prove smart given they have around $131 million owed to him over the next three years.
Only half of the Wizards' regular season schedule has been released, but they already have seven back-to-backs scheduled. The first is the second and third games of the season, both against the Orlando Magic.
Westbrook sat out the team's first preseason game due to rest, and he is likely going to miss a game very early in the regular season as well.