OKLAHOMA CITY >> Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin needs surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow, and coach Doc Rivers said Sunday it “could be awhile” before he returns.
The operation is set for Monday in Los Angeles, and Griffin will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.
Rivers said before Sunday’s game against the Thunder that he doesn’t know when Griffin will return. Spencer Hawes started in Griffin’s place.
Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 50.1 percent. He was third in the league’s MVP balloting last year.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will take Griffin’s roster spot in next Sunday’s All-Star game in New York. West coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors will pick who replaces Griffin in the starting lineup.
Griffin missed what would have been his first NBA season because of a knee injury after the Clippers drafted him with the top pick in the 2009 draft. Since making his debut in 2010, he had sat out only four regular-season games.
The Clippers came into Sunday in sixth place in the deep Western Conference at 33-18, six games ahead of ninth-place New Orleans.