The NBA’s surest but saddest annual tradition continued on Tuesday. NBA.com’s David Aldridge reported that Blake Griffin suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee during Monday’s win over the Lakers. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that there is no structural damage to the knee, and that the 28-year-old could be out for two months.
Griffin exited in the fourth quarter on Monday after a loose-ball scrum resulted in teammate Austin Rivers toppling over the star forward’s left knee:
Blake to the locker room. Oh no. pic.twitter.com/brmG0GCJDW— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) November 28, 2017
Though the Clippers won their third straight game on Monday (against three teams in the league’s bottom third, all after losing nine in a row), the timing could not be worse. Just last week, starting guard Patrick Beverley was ruled out for the rest of the season following right knee surgery.
The Clippers are familiar with getting creative in the absence of their stars, but the struggles that are sure to come in the next few weeks turn the job security of Doc Rivers, who was stripped of his front-office responsibilities before the season, into a question that will surely linger.
Rivers will now be without four of his opening-night starters, at least for the next few games: Griffin, Beverley, Danilo Gallinari (who is expected to miss maybe another week with a left glute injury), and Milos Teodosic (out until after Christmas with plantar fasciitis in his left foot). But losing Griffin—the player the Clippers banked their near-future on this summer by signing him to a five-year, $173 million maximum contract soon after Chris Paul’s departure—could direct a team with hopes of making the playoffs for a seventh straight year to the lottery instead.
It also adds yet another injury to Griffin’s long list of them. The All-Star’s full report (dutifully compiled last season by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor) includes: a broken kneecap, meniscus tear, partially torn quadriceps, knee bone bruise, sprained knee, strained hamstring, back stress fracture, right elbow staph infection, broken right hand, loose bodies in his right knee, and an injury to his right big toe plantar plate.
What was supposed to be the Year of Point Blake—the dynamic, versatile player no longer constrained by Paul’s domineering approach—has quickly become yet another crushing disappointment for one of the most star-crossed franchises in sports.