The Oklahoma City Thunder announced Friday that All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, his third procedure since he tore meniscus back in April during the 2013 playoffs.
Westbrook is expected to be sidelined until after the 2014 All-Star Break, a period of 7+ weeks.
Here's the release.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier today, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.
"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," said Presti. "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."
Westbrook is expected to return post All-Star break.
Westbrook, 25, was averaging 21.3 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Thunder this season.
The implications for Portland are major and wide-ranging.
The Blazers currently lead the Thunder by a half-game for the Northwest Division lead (and the best record in the Western Conference). Westbrook is expected to miss at least 27 games during his absence.
Additionally, Portland will play Oklahoma City three times during Westbrook's absence (in Oklahoma City on Dec. 31 and Jan. 21, and in Portland on Feb. 11).
Finally, Westbrook's absence from the 2014 All-Star Game will open up a spot that very well might be claimed by Blazers guard Damian Lillard. As it stands, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul are penciled is as the Western Conference's starting backcourt, although Bryant's availability is subject to change due to his own knee injury.
Lillard is competing with the likes of Houston Rockets guard James Harden, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, among others, for a reserve spot. It's now possible -- maybe even likely -- that all four of those players will find their way to New Orleans in mid-February even if Bryant does claim his spot.
Here's a possible Western Conference roster if Bryant does participate...
- Chris Paul | Stephen Curry | Tony Parker | Damian Lillard
- Kobe Bryant | James Harden
- Kevin Durant
- Blake Griffin | LaMarcus Aldridge | Kevin Love | Dirk Nowitzki
- Dwight Howard
PS Thanks to fulcrum89 in the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter