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Russell Westbrook has knee surgery, could miss time this preseason

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USA Today Sports

Russell Westbrook has knee surgery, could miss time this preseason

Any time you see the word "knee surgery", it's an instant attention grabber.

That's exactly what happened when this report from ESPN's Royce Young about Russell Westbrook made its way around Twitter Wednesday.

"Maintenance" may lower the anxiety a little for anyone emotionally invested in Westbrook or the Thunder, but c'mon, it's still knee surgery. 

If he just misses some time in the preseason, things will be fine, but the Thunder have high expectations this year they need to live up to. They also have the second-highest payroll in the NBA ($147,305,636). 

This is a rare situation for Westbrook, who's missed a total of five games since the start of the 2015-16 season. The Thunder did add Dennis Schroder this offseason, which gives them some insurance if Westbrook misses games to start the regular season.

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Bradley Beal doesn't care if he's named a 2019 NBA All-Star starter

Bradley Beal doesn't care if he's named a 2019 NBA All-Star starter

The 2019 NBA All-Star starters are set to be announced on Thursday and Wizards guard Bradley Beal is not optimistic he will be chosen. That is despite a growing number of supporters in the media, but Beal understands their votes only count for 25 percent of the equation.

Fan voting makes up 50 percent and NBA players the remaining 25 percent. With Beal in a distant 10th among Eastern Conference guards in the fan voting rounds that have been made public, he has set his expectations accordingly.

"I'm not going to be a starter so it doesn't matter," he quipped after Wizards practice on Wednesday. "I'm positive. Let's just be honest. Right? We all can be honest, right?"

Beal, who made his first All-Star team last season as a reserve, will almost certainly be an All-Star again this year one way or another. Coaches vote on reserves and those will be announced on Jan. 31.

But Beal has a solid case to be a starter despite his Wizards sitting at just 20-26 and outside of the playoff picture. He is posting career-highs in points (24.7), rebounds (5.0), assists (5.0), steals (1.3) and blocks (0.9). He has appeared in all 46 of the Wizards games this season while many of his teammates have been absent due to injury.

Boston's Kyrie Irving appears to be a lock for one of the two starting guard spots in the East. He has a strong case with his numbers, his team's success and has fared well in fan voting. But the second spot has no clear favorite.

Ben Simmons has played well for a good Sixers team. Victor Oladipo of the Pacers also has a case, though due to injuries his numbers have fallen off.

Kyle Lowry has helped the Raptors post one of the league's best records. Kemba Walker of the Hornets has had the best season of his career and plays for the hometown team with the game taking place in Charlotte.

There is also Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, a future Hall of Famer who might be a starter if it were based solely on fan voting. If he gets support from players or media votes, he could get in as a legacy pick given this is the final season of his legendary career.

Basically, Beal has a lot of competition. He gets it and insists he isn't losing sleep over the pending announcement.

"Even then I don't let it consume me. It's not like a goal of mine like 'oh, I've gotta be an All-Star.' If I am, it's great. It's even more motivation to continue to get better. Even if I'm not an All-Star, I'm not going to be mad or upset," he said.

Beal said his No. 1 goal is winning and mentioned how the Wizards remain six games under .500 despite reeling off seven of their last 10. Washington happens to be hosting the defending-champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, so he has plenty on his plate.

Beal will likely be an All-Star representing the Wizards in the Feb. 17 showcase. But it doesn't sound like he will be doing any of the other festivities.

Beal has participated in the three-point contest twice in his career and both times was a runner-up. He has not been invited yet to this year's contest and probably won't participate even if he is asked.

"I would probably take a break this year because it was definitely a lot last year, just all the off-court stuff," he said. "I'm not saying I won't do it for the rest of my career, but I don't think I'm doing it this year."

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NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings: Luka Doncic is human, while a new face climbs

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NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings: Luka Doncic is human, while a new face climbs

Rookie walls are always a factor around this time of year in the NBA.

Some players find ways to push through it, or even improve as we move past the halfway point of the season and into the new year. 

Others have some rough patches though.

RELATED: CHECK OUT OUR NBA ROTY RANKINGS

Our latest NBA Rookie Rankings obviously have some names you've seen on there before, but there's a new face as well.

Believe it or not, the Hawks may actually have a nice combo with Trae Young and Kevin Huerter starting to develop in Atlanta. 

Luka Doncic still breaks #NBATwitter on a nightly basis, but he's had his recent struggles too. He may actually be human after all!

The surprising Kings also got their lottery pick back, and Marvin Bagley III is helping Sacramento keep the playoffs in their sights.

Where do these guys all come in this week in our Rookie Rankings?

Find out here:

CHECK OUT OUR NBA ROTY RANKINGS

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