Australian guard Dante Exum was aiming for a breakout NBA season. Now he is facing another break from and it could be a long one.
The 22-year-old Utah Jazz player went down on his left shoulder during the club's preseason game against Phoenix Suns on Friday and was diagnosed with a separated left shoulder.
There are fears he may have done damage to his shoulder ligaments, which could require surgery and be serious enough to see him miss the whole season.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported the Jazz are looking for second and third opinions on the injury and what course Exum can take in recovery but concerningly, the team has put no timeline on his return.
Thoughts with my guy @daanteee
— Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) October 7, 2017
Exum has been one of the big improvers during the Jazz's preseason campaign and looked assured a prominent role as the backup point guard to Ricky Rubio.
He spoke to Fairfax Media last week about how his confidence and self belief was as high as any time in his career.
The fourth-year guard is also aiming for a long-term contract extension to remain with the Jazz but that looks unlikely if he misses a long stretch with this injury. He also missed all of his second season due to a knee reconstruction.
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The Jazz would be able to retain Exum for next season as a restricted free agent although another team could make him a long-term offer, forcing the Jazz to match it or let him leave.
Devastated for @daanteee … who worked very hard this summer and was ready for a big year, come back stronger brother.
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) October 7, 2017
But all of that matters little right now as Exum faces another frustrating season filled with rehabilitation work, especially if he is forced to have shoulder surgery.
Jazz teammates sent out messages of support for Exum and his absence will be felt with Brazilian guard Raul Neto expected to move into the backup point guard role and others like Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood and rookie shooting guard Donovan Mitchell all likely to have to play more minutes in playmaker roles.
The Jazz have one more preseason game against the LA Lakers on October 11 [AEDT] then tip off their season against the Denver Nuggets on October 19.