The Thunder announced Tuesday that Russell Westbrook underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery to alleviate swelling.
His timetable is he’s expected the first 4-6 weeks of the regular season. So that’s 8-10 weeks total.
“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,” said Sam Presti 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.”
That’s right. A loose stitch. Presti described the issue on a conference call, saying it “the way it’s been described to me is that it’s a little bit of an outlier,” and that Westbrook had been battling some swelling issues the last 2-3 days and the team decided it was time to find out why. So Westbrook flew to California to consult a surgeon and it was determined he needed a procedure to reduce the swelling.
“He’s been great in the rehab,” Presti said. “In fact, ‘great’ is probably an understatement.”
Presti noted again that the procedure revealed his initial surgery was a success — “I think the thing that’s important to focus on is the surgery itself and the meniscus itself is healing properly,” he said — and that while unexpected, this surgery shouldn’t have any kind of long-term impact on Westbrook.
“Although we lost a little bit of time, we gained a tremendous amount of confidence in the recovery and the knee itself,” Presti said.
Westbrook’s original surgery was in Vail, Colorado, but Presti said that this one was performed in California. Presti said Westbrook is “obviously disappointed” but that he looks and feels great, and hasn’t been experiencing any pain.
“As we work through this period, when Russell does come back and join us, he’ll be as good as ever and the team will be better,” Presti said.
Presti stressed the team is better prepared to handle missing Westbrook, having experienced it last postseason as well as having a full training camp and preseason schedule to sort it out. But with only two point guards on the roster now, it’s apparent the Thunder will need to make a short-term move to help solidify the position some. There’s Diante Garrett, who has been brought in for training camp, but if not him, it would seem a roster move is needed. Though Presti was non-committal on that.
Via Anthony Slater, said Kevin Durant: “Him not being out there with us, it’s killing him. So we just got to encourage him … I’m gonna call him after practice today and check in on him. That’s my guy, I love him and I’m glad it was a successful surgery.”
The weight of Westbrook’s absence will once again fall on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson, but this time around, there’s no Kevin Martin to fill in as the new secondary (or third) scorer. Jeremy Lamb has had a lot of pressure placed on him this offseason as the organization expressed obvious confidence in him, but now, he’s needed more than ever.
“He’s ready,” Durant said of Lamb. “I know he’s ready.”