Can Thunder maintain after Westbrook injury?
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
For a team that has championship aspirations, the Oklahoma City Thunder face an early season of uncertainty.
More than five months after point guard Russell Westbrook tore the meniscus in his right knee in the Thunder’s first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, he had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee the day training camp started and was expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season that begins Oct. 30.
While Westbrook was not experiencing pain in the knee, swelling persisted, he had the knee examined and it was determined he needed to have the procedure to find the source.
During the arthroscopic surgery, a loose stitch was discovered that was the origin of the swelling. Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who deemed the loose stitch an outlier, says Thunder team physicians were present as observers for the meniscus procedure and arthroscopic surgery.
The good news for the Thunder — and there isn’t much — is twofold: It was better to solve the swelling mystery now rather than learn of the loose stitch midway through the season, and Presti says the doctors determined during the latest procedure that the meniscus was fully healed.
“We’re very, very encouraged to be able to say that the meniscus itself is healed and healed as well as could have been expected,” Presti says.
“We thought it was important to identify the source of the swelling, as well, because we didn’t want to be in a position where we’re faced with this decision in an on-again, off-again situation as the season progressed.”
But the bad news — and there is plenty — is that the Thunder already were losing a grip on their spot among the Western Conference elite.
Presti says that being without Westbrook would help the team get stronger for his return.
“I think that over time, as we work through this period, when Russell comes back and joins us, he’ll be as good as ever and … the team will be better than the one he last played with, based on the fact that they’re going to have to play through some situations that are … [For more on Can Thunder maintain after Russell Westbrook injury?, click here.]