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Khem Birch undergoes surgery on right knee, expected to make training camp return

Birch’s ailing knee was an issue this past season, and is hopefully something he can put behind him after this surgery.

Toronto Raptors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 103-88 in Game 5 Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors announced on Thursday that Khem Birch underwent successful arthroscopic surgery “to clean up loose debris” on his right knee. Sounds gnarly!

As noted by the team, Birch is expected to make a full recovery, with a rehab schedule bringing him back to action ahead of training camp in September.

We all know it’s been a tough road injury-wise for Birch since he was signed late in the Tampa season in April 2021. Aside from all the elbows to the face — it seems like we’ve seen Khem in a protective mask as often as we’ve seen him without one — Birch’s knee had been a problem throughout this season, and was no secret among team observers.

His ability to defend at the centre position and be mobile doing so was a big reason Toronto brought him into the fold, and that part of Birch’s game has suffered most as the result of recurring knee issues. The Raptors are never going to ask Birch to be an offensive juggernaut. His little bunnies in the lane are all the looks he’ll get, and likely need, in order for the team to be successful. On defense, though, he has to be active enough, and too often this year the opposition’s eyes lit up when seeing he could be involved in their action.

What does it all mean? That today’s news is the first step to recovery, and if Toronto does decide to keep Khem around in 2022-23, there’s plenty to be excited about as he continues to fit a position of need.