Griffin's surgery decision was last resort

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- The possibility of surgery on his fractured kneecap was always in the back of Clippers forward Blake Griffin's mind, even as he slogged through the rehabilitation process with every intention of getting back on the floor before the All-Star break.

Once he experienced serious discomfort this week, that prospect became a reality. Griffin will undergo surgery Jan. 20 in Los Angeles. The current prognosis is for him to be off the court for between four and six months.

A stoic Griffin addressed the media Wednesday at the Clippers' training facility. The rookie expressed disappointment that he won't be able to take the floor this season, but he also conveyed a calm resolve at his misfortune.

"I don't think of it as season-ending, because technically I haven't started," Griffin said. "I guess you could say it's a debut-prolonging injury."

The decision to opt for surgery came after Griffin felt pain in the knee while he was in the pool Tuesday for aquatherapy.

"I'd been cleared that day to take it a step further," Griffin said. "I felt it a little bit, and I could just tell from doing specific stuff that I wouldn't be able to be 100 percent."

At the time of the initial diagnosis of a broken kneecap, Griffin had two choices: surgery or the extensive treatment regimen he's followed over the past 12 weeks.

"Letting it heal would be the quicker option, so obviously we had to give that a try," he said. "That was the prognosis of multiple doctors."

As faithful as Griffin was to the rehabilitation process, his kneecap was never able to recover fully from the treatment, leaving season-ending surgery as the last resort.

"This isn't how I planned for my first year to go," Griffin said.

As difficult as the decision has been, Griffin noted that shutting it down for the season ends the waiting game, which was almost as excruciating as the rehab.

"It relieves any expectations for this season," Griffin said. "Now I'm looking forward to next season."

By not logging a single minute during the 2009-10 regular season, Griffin will officially start the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He'll be eligible for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, but other issues surrounding his status remain uncertain.

"Hopefully next year I won't have to get doughnuts or wear a backpack or anything like that," he said. "I'm going to sit down and have a meeting with the veterans, so we'll see."

Kevin Arnovitz covers the NBA for ESPN.com and is the author of the True Hoop Network's Clipper Blog