Russell Westbrook underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee Saturday and will miss the remainder of the postseason, the Thunder announced today.
“Although we are of course disappointed that Russell will be unable to return to the floor with his teammates this season, the opportunity to repair the meniscus as opposed to remove it was the best possible scenario for Russell’s long term health as a player and person,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti in a release. “Russell’s health and well being are obviously our number one priority through this process and today’s procedure helped solidify our belief that Russell will have many productive years of basketball in his future.”
Westbrook injured the knee in Game 2 against the Rockets on Wednesday after a collision with Patrick Beverley. Westbrook remained in the game and played 29 more minutes, scoring 20 points.
Presti said on a conference call that Westbrook had a repair done on his meniscus, rather than a removal.
“The results of the surgery itself were the best-case scenario for Russell, both as a player and a person,” Presti said.
Other players have returned much more quickly from a similar injury, most notably Metta World Peace recently who took the floor 12 days after surgery. The difference is World Peace just did the “clean up” prodecure, while the Thunder and Westbrook opted for the full repair.
“When we see players return quickly from these procedures, it’s easy to see the short-term beneft of that. But they’re returning because the meniscus was not able to be repaired. In fact, it is removed. Which allows there to be some short-term gain, but ultimately there’s a long-term loss. So any tiem you enter into these types of situations, what you’re looking for is a full repair, which is what Russell was able to have today.
“Obviously in the short-term it’s a disappointment, everyone would like to see him on the floor. But entering into the procedure this is the best case scenario for Russell Westbrook as a player or person, or for anybody.”
Westbrook will begin his rehab today.
“I know when he starts rehab this afternoon, he will be relentless,” Presti said.
Westbrook, 24, has never missed a regular-season or postseason game in his five-year NBA career.
The Thunder lead the Rockets 2-0, with Game 3 tonight. Without Westbrook, a player seen as the Thunder’s emotional leader, the team will be in an interesting place, playing without him for the first time ever.
“I don’t think we have to rally in any sense,” Presti said. “The mentality of the group is in place.”
A more specific timetable for Westbrook’s return will be announced at a later time.