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Andre Roberson’s Injury Update

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Roberson has not played since the 2017-18 season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Oklahoma City had a team practice last week, and conducted a media session where details regarding Andre Roberson’s injury status were released. The session revealed that Andre Roberson is far away from a return to basketball, and the pain in his left knee has not gone away.

Roberson’s injury is still much too painful to play on currently so Roberson, in conjunction with the Thunder organisation, has made the decision to continue his rehab in Los Angeles. The organisation has stressed the move to Los Angeles is purely a ‘change of scenery’ for Roberson so that he can continue his process in peace. Roberson has been working with the team throughout the entirety of his rehab to date which has meant he has travelled with the team on away games, it could be wise for Roberson to have more day to day stability during a difficult time in his life.

The injury was incurred in a different era of the Thunder. Andre got injured in a game against the Detroit Pistons when the Thunder still had Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

The actual injury itself is particularly damaging to the human body. The rupture of the left patellar tendon means the soft tissue between the tibia and the patella is gone. This means there is bone-on-bone contact, which can lead to large amounts of inflammation and huge amounts of pain. The other key effect of the rupture is the knee cannot be fully straightened, making even walking difficult. This type of injury can result in basketball, as it is termed ‘jumper’s knee’ by many medical experts.

The treatment of this injury is often done surgically, with the torn tendon being reattached to the kneecap. There are serious complications that can occur with the rehabilitation process due to the tendon being attached to other important muscles such as the quadriceps. It is important that the recovery process build up strength and resistance slowly, as an overaggressive schedule could tear the tendon again and so that there are no spillover effects on the surrounding muscles. Roberson has suffered a two notable setbacks with the rehab process, and the most recent setback was revealed on Tuesday.

Billy Donovan was reticent to say that Roberson has suffered another setback — and somewhat dodged the question — but Steven Adams was more forthcoming about the injury status of his friend. Adams stated that Andre has undergone “another one of those setbacks” in regards to the recovery process.

It is now two years since Roberson injured his patellar and his return to the game now looks incredibly uncertain. The Thunder medical staff have seemingly exhausted every avenue available to them in order to aid the rehabilitation process, but Roberson has opted to ‘try some other avenues,’ according to Billy Donovan. Donovan did not go into detail about the measures which Roberson is considering, but it is likely another surgery on the tendon will occur. It is not an injury which can be treated without invasive action.

However, Donovan did elaborate on Roberson’s state of mind regarding the injury. Donovan stated that Roberson has “gotten to a point, and he can’t get past that point” in terms of the pain in his knee. For a person like Roberson, who previously played through patellar tendinitis, this is a significant statement that speaks to the level of pain he is feeling. The discomfort is too great for Roberson to soldier through.

The repercussions of Andre’s injury are devastating for his career. He has lost two years of his life and basketball career to injury and apparently is no closer to a return to the court.

With this setback, there is a very real possibility that Andre Roberson’s career is over and he will not be able to get back to playing condition. As a fan, this fact makes me sad, as I enjoyed watching Roberson lock down scorers such as James Harden and Stephen Curry. The way that Andre approached defence was pretty special, and there are few players who combine his mix of defensive intelligence and physical attributes. Robes was a legitimate defensive player of the year candidate, and this fact should not be lost to history.

The Thunder could in theory can apply for cap relief if Roberson is medically unable to play in the NBA again. This would drop the team below the tax line, but this process feels unnecessary and pointless. Andre’s contract runs out this summer, and it feels fair for the Thunder to satisfy their contractual obligations to Roberson.