PORTLAND, Ore. — Tyrone Corbin couldn't help but chuckle when asked by a Portland reporter if the Jazz coach would use a three-guard rotation in Saturday night's game against the Blazers.
"Three guards?" Corbin replied. "I don't know if I have three guards."
Healthy — and available — guards are becoming an endangered species on the Jazz roster.
Because of injuries and inactivity, Utah is down to four available guards — Jamaal Tinsley, Randy Foye, Alec Burks and Kevin Murphy.
Earl Watson is the latest member of Utah's backcourt to become unavailable for Corbin's use, joining point guard Mo Williams (thumb surgery), shooting guard Gordon Hayward (sprained right shoulder) and shooting guard Raja Bell (exiled in Miami) to be sidelined for the time being.
Watson injured his lower right leg in Friday's 86-77 home win over Portland.
While Utah traveled to Rip City following the victory, the backup point guard remained behind to get an MRI on his ailing leg. The test revealed multiple issues, including bone bruising and a stress fracture.
The bruising is on Watson's right fibula head and lateral tibia. He also has a small, non-displaced stress fracture on the tibia surface, the Jazz announced.
Watson did not travel to Portland and will be out of commission until his comfort level improves.
The Jazz did not provide a timetable for the 12-year veteran's return.
"We'll see how he responds," Corbin said.
Corbin said Watson's latest injury is not related to the knee surgery he had to repair the torn medial meniscus in his right knee last spring. Watson missed the first 12 games this season while rehabbing his way back.
Watson initially hurt his lower leg Wednesday against New Orleans when he bumped legs with one of the Hornets, the coach explained. It was re-aggravated twice Friday.
SMALLER ROSTER: The Jazz now only have 11 healthy players on their maxed-out roster of 15 athletes.
"It's that time of year, just before All-Star break," Corbin said. "You're closing in on 50 games in a year."
The injuries leave the Jazz with only one true point guard: soon-to-be 35-year-old Tinsley.
"With two point guards out, we have to move some things around," Corbin said. "Then Gordon being out also hinders that some, because we put the ball in his hands normally. But that's part of the year. That's part of being on a team, so you've got to be excited to play."
Burks, the player likely to see more playing time at the backup playmaker spot, has mixed feelings about the situation.
"You never want nobody to get hurt, but you've always got to be ready at the same time," the second-year guard said. "I'm really close to Earl. I hate to see him get hurt, but it happens. I wish him a speedy recovery."
POSSIBLE REPLACEMENTS?: Jazz center Al Jefferson offered his services at the point guard position if Corbin wants to take him up on it.
"In our offense, you know, a good offense," Jefferson said, "I could even run point."
Big Al admitted that suggestion didn't have much success — and not just because he hasn't played point guard since he goofed around on the playground about 15 years ago.
"It went in one ear and out the other," he said. "Coach wasn't trying to hear that."
Corbin's thoughts on Jefferson's joke?
"He wasn't joking. He really wasn't joking," Corbin said, laughing. "That's just who these guys are. They are willing to step up and try anything."
It apparently isn't the first time Jefferson has offered to swap spots, either.
"He wanted to play three and now he's going to the point," Corbin said. "He's moving around a little bit. I like him on the block, though."
While congratulating Williams and his wife, Keisha, for their newborn baby boy, who arrived Friday night in Utah, Corbin smiled as he considered another possibility.
"Little Maxwell," Corbin said. "We've got to get him up to speed really fast because we need him. We need the body right now."2 comments on this story
Whether or not the new Williams is available for backup minutes anytime or not, Corbin said he's excited that the injured point guard added a fifth child to his home.
"It's tremendous. Everybody's doing well. They're recovering," Corbin said. "It's just another addition to the Jazz family."