OAKLAND – Peppered with questions about how he would proceed without Andrew Bogut at center, Warriors coach Steve Kerr kept coming back to one individual.
That would be veteran power forward David Lee.
"I'm expecting David back next week," Kerr said during his pregame news conference Thursday, two hours before the Warriors would face the Thunder at Oracle Arena.
Lee has missed 23 of the Warriors 24 games this season. He strained his left hamstring in the Oct. 24 preseason finale and sat out 12 days, only to aggravate the injury seven minutes into his return Nov. 5 against the Clippers.
In the six weeks since then, Lee has progressed from rest to rehab to light running to non-contact workouts.
The Warriors, meanwhile, were compiling the best record in the NBA without the man who represented them in the 2013 All-Star Game.
"He's been frustrated,'' Kerr said. "But he's close, and it'll be great to get him on the floor for practice this weekend.
"We'll more than likely have tomorrow off, and then we'll practice Saturday and Sunday. That will be our first chance to actually scrimmage in several weeks. David will be involved in that. More than likely, if he does fine, he should play Monday."
Though backup center Festus Ezeli will be the primary starter and power forward Marreese Speights also will see playing time at center, Lee's return is significant because he offers some of the same offensive assets as Bogut – with the bonus of solid mid-range shooting.
"We'll still run most of the same actions that we run," Kerr said. "The good thing is getting David back solves a lot of that, because David and Andrew are similar playing out of the high post and running all of our actions through them.
"Without both of them, it gets tricky. We're probably less dynamic offensively."
Kerr also said the team has not seriously discussed the possibility considering Jermaine O'Neal, who played a key role last season but has spent the initial weeks of this season in unofficial retirement.
"We're not even talking about signing anybody else right now," the coach said.