Paul, 31, left Monday's 120-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second quarter after jamming his thumb while defending Russell Westbrook. He did not return and was initially diagnosed with a sprain after X-rays were negative.
The Clippers expect him to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery Wednesday.
Paul previously suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb during the 2012 offseason, though the timing allowed him to avoid missing games.
This is a frustrating blow for the Clippers, who appear snakebitten by injuries. Blake Griffin has been out with a knee injury since a Dec. 18 loss to the Washington Wizards and has no definitive return timetable. Even Paul missing the bare minimum of six weeks keeps him out until March.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke to reporters about the team's injury situation last month:
Obviously, I want everybody to be healthy. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t ever worry about stuff like that. I wish I had that touch where you’re no longer injured. I can’t. I just have always believed you play the hand – whatever hand you have, you play it. And you try to win with it. And some nights, you have to bluff to win. You just play your hand and do your best.
Paul previously missed a stretch of seven out of eight games with a hamstring strain. The injuries are par for the course for Los Angeles, which has seen its two biggest stars be unable to stay healthy together. Either Paul or Griffin—or both—has missed at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons.
Their only healthy season was 2011-12, their first together.
DeAndre Jordan, who has not missed more than five games since 2009-10, has been the only consistently healthy member of the Clippers core. Sitting in fourth place in a tight battle in the top half of the Western Conference, the Clippers will likely lose out on home-court advantage in the first round because of Paul's injury.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.