Utah Jazz: Raja Bell to return to Utah, out indefinitely with injury

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 12:01 a.m. MDT

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Raja Bell mystery has been solved — for now, at least.

The veteran shooting guard is out indefinitely after receiving an injection of hyalgan in his left knee Monday by a doctor in Miami. The lubricating medicine is used to treat pain caused by osteoarthritis, according to WebMD.com.

The 35-year-old left the team during its road trip last week, staying behind in Atlanta and then traveling to Florida to receive additional opinions on his ailing left knee.

Bell will return to Utah to be re-evaluated by team orthopedist Dr. Lyle Mason on Wednesday morning. The Jazz host Phoenix that night.

Bell, who hasn't played since March 15, is hoping to avoid season-ending microfracture surgery.

"We want to make sure we do the right thing for the player and he have to be comfortable with it," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said before Monday's game. "Raja is a veteran guy and we support him in whatever his decision is there."

Bell's left knee gave him occasional soreness at times this season, so he underwent an MRI on March 12. Dr. Mason diagnosed his knee as showing signs of mild damage to the structure of his knee consistent of somebody who'd been in the league for 12 years.

That came while Bell was out with a strained adductor, a situation that caused some confusion and mystery.

Bell's groin recovered and he felt good enough to play, but the Jazz held him out because the veteran and his agent wanted to get a second opinion to see if alternatives to surgery were out there.

Bell's MRI results were sent to a doctor in Charlotte, N.C. Bell then received permission to leave the team to be evaluated again and receive a third opinion in Miami.

That was a week ago, and neither the Jazz nor Bell's camp provided any updates until Monday.

The 2011-12 season has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for Bell. He reported to camp in excellent shape and was lauded for his hard work and leadership from Day 1 by Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin.

In return, Bell was rewarded the starting shooting guard spot that he relinquished to Gordon Hayward at the end of last season. Bell started in all 33 games he played, averaging 6.6 points on a career-best 47.9 percent shooting.

Part of Bell's season was hampered by groin injuries. He missed a total of 17 games due to strained adductors.

Offensively, Bell started off slowly and did not get many touches as the interior-oriented Jazz offense revolved around Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, leaving Bell as one of the last options.

Bell didn't hit double digits until the 11th game and only scored 10 or more 10 times. Things were clicking for him during a stretch in February, though, when he hit double figures in seven of eight games. He also had the longest 3-point streak in the NBA, dropping at least one from deep in 18 consecutive games.

Even when his offensive numbers weren't sparkling, Bell maintained his role on this Jazz team was to be a defensive pest to opposing shooting guards and to do whatever the coaches asked of him.

Over time, though, Bell became more frustrated with his diminished role, among other things. His frustrations boiled over in a locker room outburst at Corbin following a loss at Philadelphia on March 9.

Bell was sent home from a road trip a game early and then met with Corbin and general manager Kevin O'Connor two days later.

The three each said the meeting went well and that issues had been smoothed over. Bell, who's under contract through the 2012-13 season, hadn't participated in shootaround that morning prior to the chat, but he ended up starting that Monday night and played 27 minutes. That was the most time he'd seen in three weeks, but he only played two more times after that.

Now it remains to be seen if he'll play again.

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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