This is bad news for the Thunder — not “the season is lost, woe is me” kind of news but for a team with championship aspirations it is a step back.
Russell Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to reduce swelling on Tuesday, the team announced.
The big news — it pushes back his recovery timetable to the point he will miss a month to six weeks of the regular season. He will be back somewhere around Thanksgiving, and even then history suggests it will take a month or so of playing in games to get his feel back.
Westbrook first suffered an injury in a collision with Patrick Beverly of the Rockets during the playoffs. With Westbrook out and defenses able to load up on Kevin Durant, the Thunder were eliminated in the second round.
The Tuesday surgery showed the meniscus healed properly but there were other things to be cleaned up, Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a conference call, as reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
“The origin of the swelling that was discovered was caused by the presence of a loose stitch…”
“Although we lost a little bit of time, we gained a tremendous amount of confidence in the recovery and the knee itself…”
“We all know (Westbrook). His work and his diligence through this process has been nothing short of spectacular.”
Westbrook — an All-Star and Olympian who averaged 23.2 points and 7.4 assists a game last season — should be back for the second half of the season and a playoff run. In a deep Western Conference the lack of Westbrook to start the season could cost the Thunder playoff seeding slots.
While he is out a lot falls on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson the third-year player out of Boston College who averaged 14 minutes a game last season but was going to be asked to do a lot more this year with Kevin Martin (the replacement for James Harden) gone. Behind Jackson are Derek Fisher and rookie Diante Garrett.
Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.
Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.
The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.
The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).
So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.
The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.
“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.
“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”
Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)
Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.
And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.
Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.