SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this week, Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum posted a photo on Instagram of himself at a beach as the NBA's All-Star break was nearing conclusion. Exum finished the caption on the photo with #backsoon.
Did that hashtag mean the Aussie guard would be ready to play Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road after missing more than a month because of a sprained left ankle?
As it's turned out, the answer to that question is "no."
The Jazz announced on Thursday that Exum will not play in the game after he was reevaluated in the afternoon. He was a partial participant in the team's return to practice from the break on Wednesday, but did not practice on Thursday because of the evaluation.
The team said more information would likely be known Friday about Exum's availability for Saturday night's home game against the Dallas Mavericks. After that contest, Utah will have a few days off before playing the LA Clippers next Wednesday, also at home.
Friday will mark the 18th game Exum has missed because of the injury, which he suffered early in a comeback road victory for the Jazz over the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 5. After playing all 82 games his rookie season, the fifth-year pro has missed significant time in each of the last four campaigns because of injury, including all of his second year because of a torn ACL.
In the 11 games before the latest injury, Exum, who signed a new three-year contract last summer, played as well as he has in his career. Over that span, he averaged 9.5 points in exactly 19 minutes per contest.
At the trade deadline, The Athletic's Tony Jones reported that Utah refused to include Exum in a trade package for Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley.10 comments on this story
According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, Exum has now missed out on multiple bonuses in his contract related to games played.
Besides Exum, the Jazz also announced on Thursday that seldom-used second-year big man Tony Bradley is still out after he underwent surgery on his right knee Jan. 8. The former North Carolina Tar Heel has appeared in one game for Utah this season, playing nine minutes in a Dec. 29 blowout win over the New York Knicks.
He has averaged 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 17 games for the G League's Salt Lake City Stars this season.