Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, but it's 'good news'
SALT LAKE CITY — Enes Kanter hinted about it a week and a half ago.
Now, it's official.
The Utah Jazz's backup big man is done for the season — and the postseason, if that happens.
Kanter will undergo a minor "reattachment" surgery early this morning in Chicago to have ligaments repaired and his dislocated left shoulder stabilized by Dr. Guido Marra.
The Jazz aren't giving a timetable for Kanter's rehab, although a source said the center might be back to doing basketball-related activities in a month or so after the outpatient procedure.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin talked with Kanter on the phone Tuesday and said the 20-year-old's "spirits are up" ahead of the surgery.
"He's happy about the decision," Corbin said. "He wants to make sure he gets healthy so he gets back with his teammates."
General manager Dennis Lindsey explained that the Jazz consulted with a network of medical experts, including doctors from the NFL. The unanimous decision was that surgery would be the best option for long-term results.
"Frankly, this is good news, guys. The probability as given to us that something would happen to the shoulder (again) is no greater than a shoulder that's never been injured before," Lindsey said. "We wanted to be cautious. That's why we had this lag. We wanted to make sure all the doctors and rehab therapists were on the same page."
Kanter's shoulder was dislocated in a game against Phoenix on March 27 when he and 7-foot-2, 265-pound center Hamed Haddadi battled on the court for a loose ball.
Kanter was helped up from that scrum in obvious pain and with a shoulder visibly protruding out of the wrong spot of his upper body. He has not played since then and has kept his left arm in a sling.
"Enes is disappointed because he's competitive. He's tough. He wanted to jump all in, in the playoff race that we're currently in," Lindsey said.
"As you guys know, players and competitors, sometimes you've got to save them from themselves," the Jazz GM added. "Again, the greatest goal here was Enes' long-term health. That bodes well for Enes, and as good of a player as Enes is now, he's going to be better later."
Days after suffering the injury, the Turkish big man insinuated that he might be out for the year before a recent home game. Despite feeling the pain from his shoulder popping out three days earlier, the amicable Kanter sported his usual cheerful smile prior to the Jazz-Brooklyn game a week ago Saturday.
"I'm just trying to keep myself in shape for summer," Kanter said as he dressed to get in a pregame workout.
When asked a week ago if that meant he's done for the season, the second-year center said he wasn't sure.
"I hope (to return)," Kanter said. "I'm going to come back and help my teammates. It's just so much fun to play with those guys. That's why I just want to come back if I can."
In that interview, Kanter was honest about being upset, especially considering how well he'd been playing and because of the timing during a playoff race.
"It's so frustrating," Kanter said. "I had this feeling for a year in Kentucky. I couldn't play (for eligibility purposes), and I just sit on the bench and now I'm sitting on the bench again. I'm still a mystery man."
Lindsey said Kanter remains in the Jazz's long-term plans. In his second season, the 6-foot-11 Kanter averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds, and he was coming on strong in recent months.
"We'll miss him," Lindsey admitted.
It's uncertain whether Kanter will participate in the Jazz's summer league, but it's likely he'd be back to full strength by the time the 2013-14 season begins.
Lindsey added that the Jazz won't alter any of their offseason player moves based on this season-ending surgery.
"We fully expect that Enes will be back 100 percent," Lindsey said. "Our plans are to have a very talented 6-11 power-forward-slash-center in the Jazz uniform for a long time coming. All of our plans will be with Enes in mind."
Kanter, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2011 draft, had played in 136 of a possible 138 games since entering the NBA prior to this injury.
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