Backup forward Matt Harpring left the Jazz on Wednesday for testing on his surgically repaired right knee, leaving his status for the club's Oct. 30 regular-season opener very much in doubt.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Wednesday that even if Harpring returns from a two-day visit to Santa Barbara, Calif., with a favorable opinion, it remains to be seen how long he will continue to be sidelined.

"Don't know," O'Connor said when asked if Harpring would be ready for Utah's 2007-08 opener at Golden State. "I can't tell that, because I don't know."

Harpring missed the Jazz's 101-93 exhibition win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night, and the ex-Sixer did not accompany the club to Albuquerque for tonight's preseason game against Sacramento.

He hasn't played, in fact, in any of the Jazz's five preseason games to date.

The bigger issue, though, is that of just how much longer Harpring will be out.

"It's more of a concern today," O'Connor said, "than it was in the middle of September, when we thought he was closer to being on track."

Harpring underwent arthroscopic surgery in August to clean out scar tissue in the knee, which twice previously was repaired via microfracture surgery.

He also underwent arthroscopic surgery in early September to address scar tissue in his ankle.

The most-pressing issue now, though, is the knee.

Harpring continues to feel pain, and O'Connor said the 31-year-old swingman "said it's not recovering as fast as he wants."

Harpring was limited to one practice a day during two-a-day sessions in the Jazz's opening week of training camp at Boise and recently returned to full-fledged rehab rather than engage in practice contact drills.

O'Connor suggested he hopes Harpring can find reassurance in California that the pain he is feeling is merely typical of a post-surgery recovery and that there are no structural issues to be addressed.

"It's something that will be good for Matt," O'Connor said, "because if they come back and say, 'Look, everything's in place, you're just gonna be a little sore' ... I think it's gonna help clear up his head."

Harpring averaged 11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 25.5 minutes while appearing in 77 games for Utah last season.

The Georgia Tech product is entering his sixth season with the Jazz and has three years and $18.5 million remaining on a contract that is not fully guaranteed but instead is tied to how many games he plays.

CHEERS TO WILLIAMS: According to a recent survey of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters by the makers of Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey, Jazz point guard Deron Williams ranks among the top five "Most Underrated Players in the NBA."

Williams is joined by Elton Brand of the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit teammates Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince, and Chicago's Ben Gordon.

WHAT THEY'RE WRITING: According to Wednesday's Miami Herald, "The Heat has been speaking with the agent for Cavaliers restricted free agent guard/small forward Sasha Pavlovic , and Miami interests (the ex-Jazz guard). ... Also available via trade, according to one GM: Utah's Gordon Giricek and Minnesota's Ricky Davis."

It's believed the Jazz indeed made Giricek — who played 14 minutes off the bench Wednesday, hitting 1-of-4 from the field — available on the trade market during the offseason.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Wednesday's Boston Globe reported that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge met this week for two-plus hours with officials from their new D-League affiliate, the Orem-based Utah Flash, and that "Celtics coach Doc Rivers said all of his rookies (Gabe Pruitt, Glen Davis, Jackie Manuel and Brandon Wallace) are Flash candidates."

The Jazz and Celtics are sharing the expansion Flash as a farm team this season.

OPEN SCRIMMAGE: The Jazz will hold an open scrimmage 7 p.m. Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena. No ticket is required for admission to the free, open-to-the-public event.


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