SALT LAKE CITY — Dante Exum is officially back. The Jazz guard will be back in the lineup tonight against the Phoenix Suns, the same team the Jazz were playing when he injured his left shoulder in a preseason game back on Oct. 6.
“I’ve been waiting to play and excited to finally get out there tonight and join the guys and fit right in,” Exum said. “It’s been a long slow road.”
The fourth-year Jazz guard is coming off his second major injury, having missed the entire 2015-16 season with a serious knee injury. The Jazz are happy to have him back, particularly after backup point guard Raul Neto recently went out with a broken wrist that will sideline him for at least a couple of weeks.
“He’ll get an opportunity to play, that’s the intent,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “The expectation is he competes and does the things that he needs to do to help the team win.”
Exum understands the team is playing very well right now, having won 19 of 21 games and he isn’t expecting to come in and score a bunch of points right away or even make a noticeable impact.
“The main thing is to find a fit on the team,” he said. “We’ve been playing so well as a unit and found that flow right now. I want to get back into the rotation and be able to play strong minutes and contribute as much as possible.”
For Exum, it’s been a difficult five months since the Suns’ T.J. Warren landed on him after a drive to the basket.
“It was tough — a lot of nights I’d come to the game and I just wasn’t feeling it, the energy of coming and sitting and watching a game I couldn’t be a part of,” Exum said. “I had to keep reminding (myself) I’d be out there soon. I’m anxious, itching to get out there and play.”
After playing Phoenix tonight at Vivint Arena, the Jazz will play Sacramento Saturday and Atlanta Tuesday before embarking on a three-game road trip. The Jazz are currently 38-30 and tied for eighth in the Western Conference.