OKLAHOMA CITY – Just when it looked like Russell Westbrook was playing his best basketball, the Thunder got some bad news.
Westbrook will be out until at least the All-Star break after undergoing a third surgery on his right knee which was initially injured last season during the playoffs. Oklahoma City has 27 games until the All-Star break and general manager Sam Presti said even then Westbrook may not come back.
“Russell has been playing pain free, but recently had experienced increased swelling," Presti said in a statement released by the team. "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.”
Westbrook had a triple-double on Christmas Day against the Knicks and has helped the Thunder to a 23-5 record this season. Westbrook is averaging 21.3 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. His triple-double Wednesday came in 29 minutes.
The injury to Westbrook likely means Reggie Jackson will get the start tonight against Charlotte. Jackson was the starter last season when Westbrook was injured in the first round against Houston.
The injury means Reggie Jackson will become the starter and could mean increased minutes for Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lamb. Presti said the team has not considered, at this point, making a trade for another point guard.
"It's fair to say it's unexpected and it's also the situation that we're presented with," Presti said on a conference call. "The way we're going to deal with it is manage it the best we can. "I'm most disappointed for Russell because of how much he loves to play."