INDIANAPOLIS — Blake Griffin is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken shooting hand after punching a Los Angeles Clippers staff member during a road trip.
The star forward underwent a procedure and was treated by an orthopedic surgeon after returning early to Los Angeles from the five-game trip, the team said Tuesday. He has a spiral fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand.
A person with knowledge of the incident said Griffin and equipment manager Matias Testi got into an argument during a dinner that escalated. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Clippers had not confirmed those details publicly. Testi had multiple facial injuries.
About 90 minutes before Tuesday night’s game at Indiana, coach Doc Rivers said he had spoken with Griffin. Rivers made it clear he wasn’t happy with the situation.
"I’m not satisfied," Rivers said. "I’m not satisfied with anything. I’m talking about a non-basketball issue right now, so I’m not satisfied with anything."
While Rivers didn’t shed much light on what led to the initial argument last Saturday in Toronto, he did acknowledge punishment is likely. He did not elaborate on what it might be.
Instead, Rivers said, he will wait for the team, with help from league officials, to complete an investigation.
Testi and Griffin appear in many photographs that have been making the rounds on social media, and Rivers confirmed Griffin and the equipment manager had a friendly relationship. He also said he did not believe alcohol had anything to do with the incident.
"It happened, but it shouldn’t happen. They were good friends," Rivers said. "It’s frustrating. You don’t want it to happen to anyone. You don’t want it to happen during the season. You don’t want it to happen after the season."
Clippers players declined to comment when the locker room was open for pregame availability.
Team owner Steve Ballmer and Rivers, who is also president of basketball operations, issued a statement earlier Tuesday in which they said Griffin threw a punch in Toronto.
"This conduct has no place in our organization and this incident does not represent who we are as a team," Ballmer and Rivers said in the joint statement.
If the timetable for his return is correct, Griffin would miss the All-Star game Feb. 14 in Toronto, where he could have been picked as a reserve.
But Rivers believes it will take Griffin even longer to make it back.
"I always say four to six weeks with a broken hand is unrealistic, that’s just my opinion," he said. "We have to fight through it because we are in a tough conference."
Griffin was nearing a return from another injury. He has been out since Dec. 26 with a partially torn left quadriceps tendon.
The Clippers are 11-3 in Griffin’s absence and in second place with a 28-16 record in the Pacific Division.
Last fall, Griffin was involved in a fight in a Las Vegas nightclub. A man accused him of taking his cellphone and grabbing him after the man photographed Clippers players inside the club. The misdemeanour battery case later was dropped after prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence.
Rivers said he spoke with Griffin about that incident at the time, too, and that Griffin and his teammates will now have to learn a tough lesson the hard way.
"It’s our job sometimes (as coaches) to teach life lessons," Rivers said. "Having said that, you have to learn from it — not only him but us, too."