After successfully working back from an ACL injury that ruled him out of the 2015-16 season, Dante Exum has suffered a possible season-ending shoulder injury in Utah's 112-101 pre-season victory against the Phoenix Suns.
An MRI scan has confirmed that the point guard had dislocated (separated) his shoulder and suffered ligament damage as first reported by Tony Jones of The Salt Lake City Tribune.
The injury occurred after Exum had stolen the ball at mid-court and was attempting a lay-up. Suns forward TJ Warren went up for a late block shot attempt only to fall awkwardly on the 22-year-old's shoulder during his shot attempt. It is unclear whether Exum hurt his shoulder when bumped or when he hit the floor, however the guard was clearly in immediate distress as he rolled on the floor.
After the game, Utah head coach Quin Snyder acknowledged the potential severity if the injury sustained by Exum.
“If you saw his shoulder, it didn’t look good,” Snyder said in the post-game conference.
The injury is an untimely blow in what was shaping as a possible breakout year for Exum. As reported by Jones, it also ends discussions on what was an expected contract extension that was being negotiated, ensuring that Exum will be a restricted free agent after the season.
Exum and the Jazz are exploring every avenue that will enable Exum to return this season, with team officials seeking alternative opinions. Should Exum require surgery, it will almost certainly rule him out of the season.
After a quiet 2016-17 season, his first after returning from his ACL injury, Exum came back into the Utah Summer League and showing marked improvement on almost every facet possible. He finished better at the rim, he shot well, even from the three-point line. It wasn’t just one-dimensional scoring either; Exum showed signs of being a consistent playmaker.
All the signs has Exum in a great position to prove once and for all that he belonged in the NBA this coming season. With this latest injury set-back, we have to wait a little longer to see what Exum can do. Judging by his hard work and determination in recovering from his ACL injury, it will hopefully be sooner rather than later.