Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will be sidelined indefinitely because of a knee injury that will require surgery.
The Thunder said Westbrook suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee during Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Houston on Wednesday. He will undergo surgery in the coming days.
"Our players' health is our first and foremost concern," said Thunder general manager Sam Presti in a statement Friday. "The Thunder's medical team and several specialists we consulted with determined that Russell undergo a procedure to address the issue. 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."
Ironically, the fifth-year veteran has never missed a game in his pro career.
"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," Presti added. "We have a resilient group of players who have always taken pride in playing as a team and that approach will continue."
Westbrook has averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds in Oklahoma City's first two playoff games this spring. The Thunder own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the Rockets, with Game 3 set for Saturday in Houston.
The three-time All-Star averaged 23.2 points, 7.4 assists and a career-high 5.2 rebounds in 82 games this season.