The Los Angeles Clippers announced Tuesday that forward Blake Griffin has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2016 NBA playoffs after aggravating a quad injury in Monday's 98-84 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Griffin, 27, left the game in the third quarter after taking a foul from Blazers forward Mason Plumlee. He did not return, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes.
The five-time All-Star was limited to 35 regular-season games after partially tearing the same quad tendon Dec. 25 and breaking his hand during an altercation with a team employee.
The Clippers will likely be without point guard Chris Paul for the remainder of the playoffs as well after he underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a broken bone in his hand, per the team. Paul will miss the next four to six weeks before being re-evaluated, which would keep him sidelined through a portion of the conference finals at the very least. He injured the third metacarpal of his right (shooting) hand during the third quarter of Monday's Game 4 loss.
“They love their teammates, and [Paul] is taking this very hard,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, per Arash Markazi of ESPN.com. “He’s worked all year to get back to the playoffs, and for this to happen to him, he’s a very emotional guy. ... Everybody, the whole team is in a training room, and it’s nice in that way, but the reality is that you don’t have Chris Paul.”
Rivers expanded on his team's struggles with injuries, per Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com:
Paul, who turns 31 in May, had been the heart and soul of the Clippers all season. He pushed the team to 53 wins despite playing more than half the season without his co-star, reconfiguring the offense around DeAndre Jordan pick-and-rolls and shooters on the wing. Over the last two seasons, Paul has missed only eight games despite years of lingering knee injuries.
The big question here may be whether Griffin has played his last game in Los Angeles. There's no denying his superhuman talent. Before his injury, Griffin was on pace to become the fifth player since the turn of the century to average at least 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game. (Kevin Durant joined the list this season.)
He's also arguably the most marketable homegrown talent in Clippers franchise history. There's no denying the work he's put into his game, developing from someone who almost exclusively used his athleticism into one of the NBA's most dynamic offensive forces. If his improved shooting continues stretching beyond the three-point arc, he's only going to get more lethal.
There were near-constant rumors about Griffin around the trade deadline. His pairing with Jordan in the middle is always going to be a bit awkward, and it's possible the Clippers could get a haul for him that could make them better in the long run.
Or maybe it's Paul who goes. He's older, more brittle and plays a position flush with talent around the league. Don't think the idea of a Kyrie Irving-for-Paul trade is totally out of the question.
Regardless of the details, this may be the end of this particular Clippers core as we know it. It's a shame that it'll come with both stars wearing suits.
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