Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is expected to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the regular season following arthroscopic surgery to reduce swelling in his knee.
Westbrook first injured the knee in the Thunder's playoff series against Houston, and had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the spring. He was off crutches by June, but recently said he wasn't sure if he would be ready for the start 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 general manager Sam Presti announced Tuesday. "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."
Westbrook traveled to California to consult with a medical team after experiencing swelling in the knee as the Thunder opened training camp. Both procedures on his knee were performed by surgeons chosen by Westbrook's people, with the Thunder's team doctors present as observers.
Westbrook averaged 23.2 points, 7.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds last season. In his absence, backup point guard Reggie Jackson is expected to start, with veteran Derek Fisher serving as his primary backup. Second-year shooting guard Jeremy Lamb will also see his role in the rotation increase.
"I think that we'll be more prepared knowing a lot more about our team, some of the players that were able to perform at the time that we were dealing with this particular situation in the past," Presti said. "And I think over time as we work through this period, when Russell does come back and joins us, A) he'll be as good as ever, and B) I believe the team will be better than the one he last played with based on the fact that they'll have to play through some situations that are not necessarily the way that we expected them."