Oklahoma City star point guard Russell Westbook is out indefinitely with a meniscus tear in his knee and will undergo surgery, the Thunder announced on Friday.
Thunder Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti said, “Our players’ health is our first and foremost concern. The Thunder’s medical team and several specialists we consulted with determined that Russell undergo a procedure to address the issue.”
There has been no timetable set for his return. Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace stunningly returned 12 days after surgery for a meniscus tear, but that timetable is not normal in the least. In addition, the extent of Westbrook’s injury is unknown.
“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,” Presti said in a statement. “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 fiery and electric point guard out of UCLA is known for his durability and playing through pain and injuries. Westbrook, who has never missed a game in his five-year career, is one of the toughest players in the NBA, and he presumably suffered the injury in a collision with the Houston guard Patrick Beverly, when Beverly tried to steal the ball from him after it was obvious Westbrook was about to call a time out. NBA observers felt Beverly’s move was tacky, at best.
Oklahoma City leads the Houston Rockets 2-0 in the playoffs. The teams will play game three in Houston on Saturday and will have to rely more on guards Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher. Both of those guards are not in Westbrook’s league, though, and cannot break down the defense with ease like Westbrook.