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.