The Thunder announced Tuesday that All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has undergone a second surgery on his right knee that will cause him to miss training camp, the preseason and the first 4-to-6 weeks of the regular season.
“Russell has been incredible in his work and rehabilitation. He has been pain-free and has performed at a high level during practice, but has experienced recent swelling that had not subsided,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a statement. “After careful consideration and recommendations from the medical team, we elected to do the procedure today based on our consulting physician’s belief that the swelling would be alleviated, and in turn give Russell the best chance for sustained performance throughout the season and beyond. During the procedure it was determined that the source of swelling was due to a loose stitch, and fortunately we were also able to confirm that the meniscus has healed properly.”
Presti told reporters during a conference call Tuesday that Westbrook is "obviously disappointed" by the setback.
The approximate recovery timeline puts Westbrook's return in early-to-mid-December. Oklahoma City opens its regular season on Oct. 30 in Utah. He will miss roughly 13 games if his absence is four weeks; he will miss roughly 21 games if his absence is six weeks.
Westbrook had season-ending surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in April. He was injured midway through the second quarter of a 105-102 Game 2 victory over the Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Westbrook casually brought the ball up the court as the Thunder prepared to take a timeout. Rather than sit back and wait for the dead ball, Rockets guard Patrick Beverley lunged across Westbrook’s body in search of an open-court steal. It was a slightly awkward effort that sent Westbrook crashing to the floor after the two guards banged legs.
The injury was a key factor in the Thunder's loss to the Grizzlies in the conference semifinals after advancing to the 2012 NBA Finals.
Reserve guard Reggie Jackson stepped into the starting role during Westbrook's absence, averaging 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists during the playoffs. Jackson, 23, the 24th pick in the 2011 draft, pencils in as the obvious replacement option again this season.
Westbrook, 24, averaged 23.2 points, 7.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals last season for the Thunder, who finished a conference-best 60-22. The five-year veteran is a three-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA second-team selection. The Point Forward ranked Westbrook No. 5 on our Top 100 of 2014 list.