Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook’s knee surgery will set the Thunder back

After re-signing Paul George this summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder are off to a rough start thanks to another knee surgery for Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder announced Wednesday morning that superstar guard Russell Westbrook had undergone a “maintenance” procedure on his right knee, which the team also described as preemptive. Oklahoma City set a four-week timeline for Westbrook to be reevaluated.

This is the fourth procedure on the same knee for Westbrook, as well as the first of those surgeries since early 2014. Westbrook reportedly began to feel stiffness within the last week, which prompted the new surgery.

All of this amounts to frustrating news for the Thunder, who are hoping to build off an inconsistent 2017-18 season which ended in the second round of the playoffs. Adding to the momentum of that playoff run, Oklahoma City was able to retain Paul George, Jerami Grant and much of the bench unit that led them to a 95-69 record the last two seasons.

Now, they are staring at a preseason without Westbrook, and an absence that could bleed into the beginning of the regular season. Not good.

However, ESPN’s Royce Young reported “the situation is not viewed by the team as anything to be alarmed about with no lingering issues anticipated to follow the procedure.”

That means the surgery truly should be just about maintenance from the original problem, which Westbrook has dealt with since a collision with Patrick Beverley in the 2013 playoffs resulted in a torn meniscus.

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Oklahoma City opens its season Oct. 16 against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena, in a contest that will likely carry much of the same electricity as every battle between Westbrook and his former Thunder teammate, Kevin Durant, has since Durant left town.

More importantly, that game will be the first opportunity for Westbrook and George to get on the court together in the regular season without Carmelo Anthony and the baggage he carried that helped sink the Thunder in 2017.

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