Storyline: Dante Exum Injury

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Was this preventable? That was the first thing Danté Exum asked his surgeon. The Utah Jazz guard had just been dealt another setback, another injury in his young career. And he wanted to know if it was his fault. The surgeon told him, No. There was nothing he could have done. Then, Exum’s mindset shifted. “I can’t control the uncontrollable,” he said. “There’s no point in me sitting here all said and praying and wishing and wanting to be on the court. It’s just about whatever I can do moving forward.”

“Right before I got my ankle injury, I felt the most confidence I’ve ever had,” Exum said. “I was playing well. I felt like I was with the team and knew what everyone was thinking. It clicked in my head that I can do this. I can be a great player.” Exum returned for three games in mid-March before he suffered another season-ending injury. “It’s been the toughest road for me,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. Going through this—this was definitely the hardest one. But I felt like I’ve dealt with it the best.”

The Jazz still haven’t given an official return date, but league sources tell The Tribune that Dante Exum hopes to come back following the All-Star break. Exum originally separated his shoulder against the Phoenix Suns in the preseason. He damaged ligaments in his shoulder and underwent surgery to repair the injury. “It’s really good to see him out there,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I was talking to Dante and he told me he feels like a basketball player again. So it’s definitely good to see him on the floor.”

Exum said he saw three doctors and talked to “six or seven” more over the past week as he made a decision with input from his family, agent and the Jazz organization. “I’m confident with the decision I made,” he said. “That’s why we took a lot of time to make the right decision for me, not just this year but long term. There was a non-surgical option, but we evaluated that and it didn’t seem like the right choice for me at this time of my career.”

Q: What do you expect from Dante Exum as he returns from his knee injury? Quin Snyder: As much as we can get. I think that’s an injury that he’ll be back from, but it’s not a simple thing. There’s a process that you go through — any player with any injury. I think that going from becoming healthy physically to getting to compete again to kind of finding your game and continuing to improve. We don’t really have a specific timetable on that as far as where he is, but I know he’s missed playing. He loves to play and I think this will be an opportunity for him to start doing that again and I know he’s excited and we’re excited for him.

Skipping out on the Olympics, albeit a tough decision because of personal reasons and national pride, will prevent Exum from being overextended too quickly this summer due to national team duties. “At this stage the most important thing for me right now is to continue training,” Exum said via a press release. “It’s been great to be back on the court competing, and I’m really motivated to help the Jazz have a successful season this year. My support and best wishes will be with the Boomers this summer, and I look forward to future opportunities to represent my home country.”
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