SALT LAKE CITY — Dante Exum gingerly strolled through the Zions Bank Basketball Campus following Saturday’s shootaround with a black brace covering his right knee.
Less than 24 hours after learning that the former fifth overall pick would be sidelined indefinitely with a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee, his teammates are rallying around him.
“Your heart breaks for him. He’s had a tough stretch with injuries, not just this year, so obviously we’re all there for him,” said Jazz guard Kyle Korver. “We were all talking with him yesterday, but I don’t think we have all the news and the timeline of everything, they’re still trying to figure things out, but this is what we do.
“You want to play basketball, you want to compete. This is what we think about every day, what we work for every day and we’ve all done it for a lot of years, so when it’s kind of taken from you it’s a hard thing, especially just coming back from a long rehab,” he continued. “We’re thinking about him and trying to raise his spirits.”
In just his third game back from missing 25 in a row with a severe left ankle sprain, Exum suffered the latest injury during the first half of Thursday’s 120-100 win versus Minnesota.
The Australian guard’s career has been marred by injuries throughout the years as he also missed all but 39 games last season with a separated shoulder. In addition to that, Exum missed his entire sophomore season after tearing his ACL while playing for the Australian national team in the summer of 2015.
A Deseret News source confirmed that Exum texted his teammates Friday after being examined by the Jazz medical staff to deliver the news and will continue to seek options on how to best treat the injury. He tried to put on a strong face in front of the guys, according to Korver, but you could tell he was hurting and disappointed by the latest setback.5 comments on this story
Until then, the Jazz will have to come together even more without him, while also lifting his spirits in the process. Exum is averaging 6.9 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6 rebounds in the 42 games he has appeared in this year, but his return is up in the air at this point.
“Just gotta support him,” said Jazz forward Derrick Favors. “He worked so hard to get back from his ankle injury, then to come back within five games and have another injury, that’s tough, so he knows we support him. We wish the best for him, but I know for him mentally it’s kind of tough, but we’re there for him.”