Dort had an operation to treat a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Muscala had a scope and lateral ligament repair on his right ankle. Jerome, who has been dealing with a hip injury, went under the knife for what the Thunder term to be a sports hernia, and could return in just eight weeks. Oklahoma City anticipates that Dort and Muscala will be ready to play in time for the beginning of the 2022/23 NBA season.
Muscala had reportedly been considering an offseason surgery to address the ankle injury — it appears he opted to accelerate that timeline. The news of Dort and Jerome requiring surgeries comes as more of a surprise.
At 20-44, the rebuilding Thunder are currently the No. 14 seed in the Western Conference. The extended absences of Dort, Muscala and Jerome – all rotation players – for the rest of the year should help Oklahoma City’s tanking efforts.
According to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (via Twitter), Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said that the country’s top sports doctors were occupied with NFL Combine obligations over the last week, which led to all these surgeries all transpiring on the same day.
Dort, still just 22, has emerged as one of the Thunder’s best players. In 51 games this year, the defensive-oriented swingman averaged 17.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG and 0.9 SPG. “It’s gotta be pretty significant for a specialist to recommend surgery,” Daigneault said of the labrum tear, per Mussatto (Twitter link).
As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the Thunder hold a $1.9MM team option for Dort for 2022/23. Should Oklahoma City pick up the option, the team could then offer him a four-year, $58MM contract extension before he reaches unrestricted free agency in 2023. The club could also turn down that team option to make him a restricted free agent this offseason.
The other two sidelined Thunder players have not been as essential for Oklahoma City this season. Jerome, a 24-year-old shooting guard, logged 7.1 PPG, 2.3 APG and 1.6 in 48 games (16.7 MPG) during his third NBA season. Muscala averaged 8.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 13.8 MPG across 43 contests for the Thunder, who have a $3.5MM team option on the 30-year-old big man for the 2022/23 season.