Most NBA teams have barely started training camp, and the playoffs remain months away. Yet today's news that Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the regular season following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee could end up having a major impact on the Western Conference postseason race.
When Westbrook still wasn't cleared last week for the start of training camp, the Thunder downplayed concerns about his recovery from April surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus. Turns out there was reason to worry: Today's arthroscopy revealed that a stitch from the repair had come loose, causing Westbrook's knee to swell.
Because the meniscus itself healed, in the long term there shouldn't be major concern about Westbrook's health -- precisely the reason he and the organization opted to repair the meniscus rather than removing it in the hopes he could rejoin the team during last year's playoffs.
Still, the time Westbrook will miss while recovering from this latest surgery could be costly.