Clippers’ Chris Paul will have surgery to repair a thumb injury and be out six to eight weeks

Clippers guard Chris Paul defends Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook on Monday night at Staples Center. Paul would leave the game after his thumb was injured in a collision involving Westbrook.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Clippers point guard Chris Paul will miss six to eight weeks because he needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, the team announced Tuesday after an MRI exam revealed the seriousness of his injury.

Paul, a nine-time All Star, will have a procedure Wednesday to repair the ligament, It will be done by Dr. Steve Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, the Clippers said.

He could miss 25 games, if Paul is sidelined for the full eight weeks. But because of the week-long All-Star break in mid-February, Paul will not miss quite as many regular-season games as he would have in other parts of the schedule.

The Clippers host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night before a three-game trip that starts Saturday in Denver and heads to Atlanta and finishes at Philadelphia.

Paul was injured in the second quarter of Monday night’s game against Oklahoma City at Staples Center when he was sandwiched between Russell Westbrook, who had the ball, and Joffrey Lauvergne, who set a screen that Paul was trying to get around.


Paul left the game in the second quarter and did not return. He had X-rays during the game that were negative for broken bones, but Paul had swelling around the thumb area.

An MRI exam Tuesday revealed something more serious.

“You worry when he does not come back out for the second half,” J.J. Redick said late Monday night after the Clippers defeated the Thunder, 120-98. “I’ve seen Chris go off [the court] before and he tries to play. So, I’m not assuming the worst by any means, but I recognize there’s probably a good chance that he’s maybe out a game or two — best case. Worst case, we’ll deal with that.”

Paul missed seven games this season with a left hamstring injury he suffered Dec. 22 against San Antonio. The Clippers went 2-5 when Paul was sidelined.

The Clippers (29-14) are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference, holding a two-game lead over fifth-placeUtah.

Paul suffered a sprained left thumb at practice during training camp last October but didn’t miss the start of the regular season.

Last spring Paul suffered a broken right hand during the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers, forcing Paul to miss the final two games as the Clippers were eliminated in six games.

Paul was running the Clippers’ offense with his usual skill this season, while averaging 17.5 points on 47.1% shooting, 39.5% on three-pointers, plus 9.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.25 steals per game.

In his absence, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers probably will turn to reserve point guard Raymond Felton in a three-guard lineup that will include Redick and Austin Rivers.

Felton has started six games this season, averaging 10.3 points and 4.5 assists in 34.7 minutes a game in that starting role.

The Clippers are already down an All-Star in Blake Griffin, who is still recovering from right knee surgery.

Griffin has missed 15 games rehabilitating his knee but is expected to return by the end of this month.

The Clippers have won seven consecutive games since a six-game losing streak at the end of December. But not having Paul for any amount of time is a tough situation.

“In the immediate future, hopefully it’s not serious. But if it is, Blake is going to be back soon,” Redick said. “So next guy up, I guess. We’ve kind of dealt with this quite a bit lately. We’ll just continue to plug away.”

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner


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