By NBA.com staff
Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbook has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will undergo surgery to correct it in the upcoming days. His return for the playoffs is possible, but uncertain.
From Turner Sports’ Rachel Nichols
And more from Presti’s release:
“We have thoroughly discussed this with Russell. Despite being the competitor and teammate that he is, he respects and understands the decision and is committed to come back even stronger. Certainly Russell is a leader and core player for this team, but we are in the midst of the playoffs and I know other players are determined to step up and contribute. We have a resilient group of players who have always taken pride in playing as a team and that approach will continue.”
The Thunder next play on Saturday in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Houston Rockets, a series that Oklahoma City leads 2-0. It figures to be the first missed game of Westbrook’s five-year NBA career. He has played in all 394 regular-season games since he was drafted fourth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2008 NBA Draft and all 45 playoff games. He has been a starter for all but his first 17 games.
Westbrook, a three-time All-Star, was averaging 24 points and seven assists a game against Houston in the first two wins in Oklahoma City. He averaged 23.2 points and 7.4 assists in the regular season. The injury happened Wednesday night in the second quarter when Houston’s Patrick Beverely went for a steal along the sideline and collided with Westbrook’s knee.
The Thunder did not set a timetable for Westbrook’s return. Los Angeles Lakers star Metta World Peace had a meniscus tear in his knee and was back on the court in less than two weeks. But others have taken much longer.
Westbrook’s injury also tightens the race for the Western Conference title. Reggie Jackson, who averaged a little over 14 minutes a game during the regular season, is expected to start in his place.