The Jazz may have to survive for a while without starting point guard Mike Conley, who left Saturday’s game with a knee injury, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The team is awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the full extent of the damage.
Conley explained to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link) that the injury was non-contact and happened as he tried to get around a screen. Conley said he felt his leg lock up and he did a mental check to determine what was causing the pain. On-court ligament tests were encouraging, Walden adds.
Conley was limping in the locker room after the game, but he told staff members that the media saw him immediately after he was icing the knee. The limp was mostly gone by the time he got on the team plane, according to Larsen.
There’s more on the Jazz:
- Talen Horton-Tucker finished Saturday’s game at point guard, which Larsen sees as an indication of what coach Will Hardy would prefer to do with his lineup if Conley has an extended absence. Larsen notes that Horton-Tucker has improved his decision-making over the past month, while Collin Sexton can be undisciplined when running the offense. Sexton started the last time that Conley was unavailable and probably expects to fill that role again, so Larsen suggests that he might move into the starting lineup to preserve the team’s “good vibes.”
- Earlier this week, Conley talked to Mark Medina of NBA.com and admitted that he expected to be traded after Utah moved Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell during the offseason. “Even all the way up to training camp, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Conley said. “I didn’t know who was going to be here, and if I was going to be here or not. Once I knew I was going to be here at least to start the season, I focused on what I needed to focus on and get out there and play. Whatever happens, happens. But while I’m here, I’ll be as good as I can be and help this team as much as I can.”
- With the best record in the Western Conference at 12-6, the Jazz are no longer in position to consider tanking for a high draft pick, but they may also not be good enough to win a playoff series, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Utah has enough assets to trade for a star player, but Todd notes that Conley’s contract would almost have to be a part of any major deal and his contributions to team chemistry would be hard to replace.