The heart and soul of the Thunder has been lost for the season.
Desmond Mason will miss the team’s final 36 games after hyper-extending his right knee Wednesday night against Memphis. After receiving an MRI on Thursday morning, it was determined Mason will need minor arthroscopic knee surgery to remove bone chips from the knee. The operation is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. today at McBride Clinic.
"When I heard that, I was disappointed just for the fact that we’re starting to play well,” Mason said. "I think that the starting unit was really starting to build some trust in each other. And over this last month, we had really jelled and developed a bond on and off the floor.”
The Thunder has won eight of its past 14 games and has climbed out of last place in the NBA standings. Mason was averaging 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 27.3 minutes.
"It’s tough,” said Kevin Durant, who on Thursday called Mason the team’s heart and soul. "There’s a big part of our team missing without Desmond.”
Mason’s injury occurred with 4:02 left in the third quarter when he landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot. There is no structural or ligament damage to Mason’s knee, and the setback is only considered season-ending because the recovery time is six to eight weeks. Only 10 weeks remain in the season.
But with Mason in the final year of his contract, the injury could mean the fan favorite has played his final game in a Thunder uniform.
"I would definitely hope not,” Mason said. "With the reputation that I have here and the feelings I have for the state of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City in general, it wouldn’t bother me one bit to have the opportunity to finish my career playing here.”