Veteran Jazz forward Joe Ingles will turn 35 later this year and is preparing to undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, but he’s not contemplating the possibility of retirement. Ingles told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that there’s “literally no doubt” that he’ll make an NBA comeback after recovering from his ACL tear.
“I know probably everybody says that when they’re going through this,” Ingles said. “A few days post-injury, people might think I’m a little bit crazy. But you look at people who have been through this. The MRI was a little bit of a win, I guess, with it just being my ACL.”
As Ingles notes, while a torn ACL isn’t an easy injury to come back from, he didn’t suffer further structural damage in that knee, such as an MCL tear. The 34-year-old also pointed out that the injury may not affect him as significantly as it would if he were a player who relied more on quickness and explosiveness.
“Then the other part of it — and we joke about it — is my game,” Ingles told ESPN. “My game has never been based on athleticism, above the rim, or anything like that. I’m not writing off what this surgery is and what the rehab looks like, but everyone around the league knows how I play and what I can do.”
Ingles joked that the reactions to his injury on social media made it sound like he was “dead” or “dying.” He told MacMahon that he remains “very, very confident” in his ability to continue playing in the NBA.
Although Ingles is optimistic about eventually returning to the court, there’s no guarantee it will happen for the Jazz. His contract with the team expires this offseason, and his $13MM+ cap hit will make him a candidate to be traded as a salary-matching piece if Utah makes a deadline deal.
“If I’m able to get someone back that would help them make a push for the end of the year, I understand that,” Ingles told MacMahon. “I’m not going to sit here and be sour and upset. I’ve built my eight years here of hard work and in the community and all that stuff, but I’m very well aware of the business side and all that.”
Theoretically, Ingles could return to the Jazz as a free agent next season even if he’s traded at this year’s deadline. His injury recovery will likely extend into the 2022/23 season, complicating his free agency, but he tells ESPN he has “good relationships” with the franchise and will see what happens after his contract expires.