LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin's first season with the Los Angeles Clippers is over before it even began.
Griffin will have surgery on his broken left kneecap, keeping the No. 1 draft pick from Oklahoma out for at least more four months, the eternally star-crossed Clippers announced in a statement Wednesday.
Griffin hasn't played a regular-season game yet for the Clippers after injuring his kneecap in their final preseason game Oct. 23, wincing in pain as he landed after a dunk. After resting the stress fracture for several weeks, he recently increased his workload in rehabilitation by running on a treadmill.
But the power forward recently developed pain in his knee while jumping in a pool, and an examination Tuesday revealed his recovery wasn't progressing properly.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
"It's a little disappointing, because he brings so much to the table," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said on a conference call. "As a group, we're coming together better all the time, and adding that talent to our lineup was something we were looking forward to."
On Wednesday afternoon, Dunleavy hadn't yet spoken to his team about the news.
"I think the reaction is going to be one of disappointment, but he hasn't been here all year," Dunleavy said. "We've just got to move forward and do what we were planning on doing anyway — making the playoffs."
Being the top pick hasn't been such an honor in recent NBA drafts. Griffin is the second No. 1 selection in the past three years to miss his entire first season with an injury.
Greg Oden, the Ohio State center chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, had microfracture surgery on his right knee three months after the draft. Last month, Oden also broke his left kneecap and was lost for the rest of this season.
Griffin was the consensus college player of the year with 22.7 points and an NCAA-best 14.4 rebounds per game last season for the Sooners, and the Clippers eagerly chose him in last June's draft.
Griffin averaged 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds during the preseason, and Dunleavy and his new teammates expected him to be a major part of their comeback season. Instead, Griffin has never been fully healthy in Los Angeles, even straining his right shoulder during summer league play in Las Vegas.
The pool exercises were part of the last hurdles to be cleared before Griffin could rejoin the Clippers in practice. He has been a constant presence at Clippers games and in film sessions during his injury.
"Blake learned a lot off the court (during his injury)," Dunleavy said. "He's been very much in tune with everything we're doing, and he's just going to continue in that mode. I think he'll come back next season more prepared."
Dunleavy also said leading scorer Chris Kaman wouldn't play against New Orleans. Kaman, averaging 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds, had an MRI exam after apparently aggravating his sore lower back during warmups in Memphis.