The Oklahoma City Thunder have been dealt a big blow ahead of the new season as superstar Russell Westbrook may miss the first couple of games.
According to ESPN's Royce Young, the 2017 MVP underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Wednesday.
This will keep him out of the team's training camp later this month and it's likely to sideline him for the entire pre-season schedule.
Westbrook could also miss OKC's season opener against the Golden State Warriors and some games after that too depending on his recovery.
The Thunder have stated he will be re-evaluated in four weeks and that's when they'll determine when he's likely to return.
But with the opening game of the campaign taking place against the Warriors on October 16, it seems unlikely that he'll be taking to the court on that night.
He may well be cleared to play in four weeks' time but with a long and gruelling 82-game schedule, the team will surely be in no rush to get him back until he's 100 percent healthy.
Young reports that the seven-time All-Star felt some stiffness in his knee over the past week during his individual workouts.
It was his decision to have a standard "maintenance" procedure to avoid dealing with niggling issues throughout the year.
It's an untimely setback for the Thunder but they don't believe it's anything to be too concerned about regarding their best player.
But it'll certainly be a worry for fans as it's the fourth surgery he's had on his right knee, although it's the first in almost five years.
After a collision with Patrick Beverley in the 2013 playoffs, Westbrook tore a meniscus in that knee and had three surgeries in the space of just nine months.
But he recovered completely and has missed just five games in the last three seasons.
The point guard was named as the MVP two years ago after becoming just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double.
The 29-year-old repeated the feat again in the 2017-18 campaign as he posted 25.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.
It's just the third time that's been accomplished in the history of the league.
With championship aspirations this year, Oklahoma City will hope that the veteran can return to full health as soon as possible to lead their charge.
But in his absence, they have an able deputy in Dennis Schroder, who they acquired in the trade with the Atlanta Hawks that included Carmelo Anthony.
Paul George will be expected to carry the scoring load but the quicker they can get their star duo on the court together, the better chance they'll have of competing with the top teams in the west.
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