The Thunder announced Friday that Russell Westbrook has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the third procedure on the knee since April. The three-time All-Star guard is not expected to return to the court until after the NBA's All-Star break in mid-February, which is roughly seven weeks away.
“Russell has been playing pain free, but recently had experienced increased swelling," Thunder president Sam Presti said in a statement. "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.”
Given his current estimated recovery timeline, Westbrook is expected to miss Oklahoma City's next 27 games. The Thunder currently have the second-best record in the Western Conference at 23-5, just a half-game behind the Blazers.
Westbrook first underwent a meniscus repair surgery on his right knee back in late-April after a fluky play involving Rockets guard Patrick Beverley during the first round of the 2013 playoffs. That surgery ended his 2012-13 season, and the Thunder were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Grizzlies.
The sixth-year guard then underwent surgery in October to address swelling caused by a loose stitch from the first surgery. Although he was initially expected to miss the first four-to-six weeks of the season, he returned after sitting out the preseason and Oklahoma City's first two games.
Westbrook, 25, is averaging 21.3 points, seven assists and six rebounds in 25 appearances this season. His All-Star Game absence opens up a spot in a deep field of Western Conference backcourt candidates. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Clippers guard Chris Paul are currently the projected starters from the fan voting process, while James Harden, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard are all vying for reserve spots that are determined by a vote of the coaches. The Oklahoman first reported news of Westbrooks's surgery.