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 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 pre-season game Oct. 23, wincing in pain as he landed after a dunk.
After resting the stress fracture for several weeks, the former Oklahoma star recently increased his workload in rehabilitation by running on an anti-gravity treadmill.
The power forward developed pain in his knee, and an examination Tuesday revealed his recovery wasn't progressing properly. The Clippers said more details would be announced soon.
After a loss in Memphis on Tuesday, the Clippers will play at New Orleans on Wednesday night before returning to Los Angeles for a road game against the Lakers on Friday.
The top pick hasn't been such an honour 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 centre 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 pre-season, and coach Mike Dunleavy and his new teammates all 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.
Griffin's woes sadly can't be surprising to fans of a team with just two winning seasons in the last 30 years and just one playoff series victory since moving to town in 1984.
The Clippers also have a long history of disappointing draft picks, including a pair of No. 1 overall choices that didn't dazzle.
Danny Manning played just 26 games in his rookie season in 1988-89 after tearing his knee ligament and undergoing surgery, though he eventually became an All-Star before fleeing town. Michael Olowokandi, the top pick in 1998, played just 45 games in his rookie season, and he wasn't much help even when healthy during five underachieving seasons.