Aussies in NBA: No Exum this season, possible Summer League return
The approach the Utah Jazz have taken with Dante Exum appears to center around the theme of 'slow and steady', with reports on his progress coming out only very occasionally. First it was getting fit enough to join the team on road trips, then, more recently, Joe Ingles talked about him making progress on building his upper body and working on ball handling drills.
According to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune, Exum had a good shooting workout earlier today, before the Hornets game at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Jazz lost this game in double overtime, 124-119. Did the Jazz miss Exum's size and length on defense, especially on Kemba Walker, whose 52-point night on 50% shooting made a new record in Hornets history? You would think so.
Now, the latest on his journey back to fitness is that Utah aren't taking any chances with him. According to Tony Jones, Exum will not be playing any part in the Jazz's 2015-16 season, regardless how much progress he makes with his rehabilitation.
It always seemed a bit of a long shot that Dante would make it back on the court before season's end, but now it appears to be set in stone. Depending on your point of view regarding the process of recovering from a serious ACL injury, this could be a good or bad thing, but the Utah organization intends to cover him in wool for now.
That said, this approach to easing him back onto the court could lead to a more exciting edition of the Utah Jazz Summer League next preseason. Jody Genessy of the Deseret News tweeted the possibility.
This seems to be right in line with how the Jazz are handling Dante's recovery. Keeping him out until Summer League would give him more rehab time and SL would also serve as a good warm up to training camp and being a part of the main roster going forward. It'll also give the Utah SL, a smaller and quieter affair than the Las Vegas version, a little bit more star power, so it seems to be win-win all around.
However, before Summer League, there's the little matter of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Regarding his chances of representing the Boomers, Dante's Jazz and Boomers teammate Joe Ingles offered cautious optimism.
“I’d love for him to be in Rio with me, but we’ll have to wait and see how his recovery goes,” said Ingles.
“Obviously, the Jazz want him at 100 percent, so they won’t do anything to jeopardise that.”
There are more tangible signs of progress at least, with Exum slowly but surely stepping up his workload.
“He’s traveling with us now and can do a lot more on court. He’s working his way up, but there’s still a long way to go.” said Ingles.
Here's hoping that 'slow and steady' does win this race. A healthy Dante Exum could be just the thing that puts the Jazz firmly in the West playoff picture.