Russell Westbrook undergoes third surgery on right knee, is out through All-Star break
Just as the Oklahoma City Thunder seemed to take their clear-cut spot atop the West’s elite, news broke in the last half-hour that point guard Russell Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery to reduce swelling in his repaired right knee.
This statement from Thunder GM Sam Presti (via Royce Young at Daily Thunder):
“Russell has been playing pain free, but recently had experienced increased swelling. After consultation and consideration by his surgeon in Los Angeles, a plan was established to monitor the swelling that included a series of scheduled MRIs. On the most recent MRI it was determined by the surgeon that there was an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures, and it was necessary to evaluate Russell further. The consulting physician determined that arthroscopic surgery was necessary to address the swelling that was taking place. We know that Russell’s work ethic and commitment will help him return to the level of play that we have all come to appreciate.”
This is a major blow to Oklahoma City, which goes without saying. The Thunder say Westbrook will be out until after the All-Star break, but that he is expected to be back healthy and ready to go by then. Still, if he returns the first game after the break, that would be 27 games without Westbrook in the lineup.
You’d have to believe this is going to have significant ramifications on playoff seeding in the Western Conference. Reggie Jackson has been playing lights-out in a reserve role, and he got some great experience as a starter during the playoffs last season when Westbrook went down. But this is a different role, and his value off the bench has been sky-high. The injury shortens the Thunder bench and puts a lot on the shoulders of Jackson, who just isn’t a Westbrook-level star.
Unfortunate, to be sure. There have been a ton of injuries this season to marquee players, but the good news here for OKC is he should be healthy come playoff time.