Clippers rookie Brice Johnson out indefinitely because of herniated disk in lower back

Clippers rookie forward Brice Johnson is seen at media day.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Clippers received a jolt of bad news Saturday when they found out that rookie Brice Johnson has an acute herniated disk in his lower back and will be out indefinitely

The Clippers said Johnson will first try to rehab his back with the hopes of avoiding surgery.

“That’s tough for a rookie,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s not obviously going to miss a year or anything. But just missing two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, for a guy that’s that young, that’s a hard break for him. It happens.”

Johnson was injured in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s game against Toronto at Staples Center.


The 6-foot-10 Johnson was drafted in the first round by the Clippers in June’s draft, taken 25th overall.

Rivers was asked how Johnson was dealing with the bad news.

“Players are pretty resilient,” Rivers said. “They accept it because they have no choice. So he’s doing rehab, or whatever you do. That’s it.”

Paul likes three-guard lineup


When the Clippers started a three-guard lineup with Chris Paul, Austin Rivers and Raymond Felton against the Raptors, it was a test run to see how Paul’s energy can be preserved.

Paul expends a lot of energy running the team’s offense and playing defense against some of the NBA’s top point guards. The other point guards rarely defend Paul, which allows them to save their energy.

The Clippers want to do the same with Paul — save some of his energy by allowing Rivers and Felton to run the show and defend the opposing point guards.

Against the Raptors, Paul said he could feel his energy level being higher.

“Heck, yeah, I could tell,” Paul said. “It’s something that I’m sure will happen over the course of the season sometimes. I compete. I love the defensive side of the court. But, at the same time, I’d be lying if I said it’s not nice to have some guys who can do a little bit of that chasing for a while. It definitely helps.”


Doc Rivers was asked about the Lakers and Denver Nuggets locking arms during the national anthem Friday.

“Yeah, I’ve seen a couple of teams do that,” he said. “Listen, good for them.”


Rivers was asked if the Clippers plan on any type of protest that teams and athletes have been involved in regarding racial injustice.

“We’ve talked about it, but not much,” Rivers said. “We’ll talk about it when the time comes.”

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