Tag: Utah Jazz

Dante Exum

Dante Exum injury revives debate about risk, reward of playing for national teams


It was one of the big topics of last summer, sparked by the injury to Paul George at a Team USA exhibition:

Can these national team injuries be avoided? Should players be potentially risking their careers over this? Where is the line between the reward of playing for one’s country and the risk of injury?

Those injuries hit NBA teams much harder than they do a national team (particularly a deep USA basketball roster). George missed most of what was a lost season for the Pacers because of that gruesome leg injury, all to play in a FIBA World Cup that draws yawns from fans in the United States (winning it did earn the USA an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics). That has long been Mark Cuban’s issue — if he and the Mavs have to assume the risk of Dirk Nowitzki getting injured playing for Germany, they should get some of the financial rewards of the event. That doesn’t happen.

The potential ACL injury to Utah’s Dante Exum playing for Australia this summer has revived this discussion.

That injury hasn’t slowed the more than 40 players who will be in Las Vegas for the Team USA mini-camp this summer because guys still want to make the Olympic squad. That is the event we care about stateside, plus it is a massive platform internationally to grow a brand. Players are not giving that up. However, a number of name players coming off injury or just feeling tired — Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, among others — will attend but not participate in drills during the camp.

Bottom line: Exum’s injury — a setback for an up-and-coming Jazz team — has people talking.

The big issue is wear and tear. It’s a question of rest.

Guys can suffer injuries anywhere — in a pickup game at UCLA, working out at a Las Vegas gym, during the NBA season, or trying to get out of their car. Injuries happen. The fact is with national teams (particularly Team USA) and international competitions, these guys play fewer minutes and have very good training staffs around them. Injuries are going to be caught faster, and the player taken care of better with Team USA than at private workouts. USA basketball’s staff and facilities are top notch.

And if you are a player who wants to learn from and test yourself against the best, USA Basketball is the place to do it.

The question is how much should guys do for their national teams? When will they get enough rest and let their bodies recuperate? We already know that the NBA is working to adjust its schedule — doing away with four games in five days, reducing back-to-backs — because of concerns about the body needing rest. That marathon grind is seen as the reason for the rash of high-profile injuries that plagued the NBA last season.

“Of course it’s a concern when players are getting injured. It’s not necessarily worse than it’s been historically. But it’s to the point, especially when you see star players going down and missing serious numbers of games, it’s something that we’re focused on…” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the NBA Finals (not long before Irving suffered his knee injury).

“We’ve revamped the entire scheduling process this year to try to do everything to clear more windows at our arenas, to clear more broadcast windows,” Silver said. “… I think the science over time zone travel has gotten much better, where moving four time zones, we think, may have an effect on players’ bodies that we may not have understood historically.”

Since there is no chance the league and players will agree to shorten the NBA season (nobody is giving up that revenue), these are at least some smart steps.

But if players are with their national team during the summer, are they getting enough physical down time? This is not a new concern — China never let Yao Ming rest, he played every summer for the national team, until his body started just to give out on him. Foreign players — such as Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol of Spain, or Exum in Australia — face added pressure because, unlike Team USA, there isn’t the same depth of talent. If the Gasols don’t play for Spain, that team is not nearly as good, there are no comparable replacements.

Cuban wants the NBA to put on its own World Cup, so at least they get paid. That seems unlikely.

But the NBA and FIBA need to talk and come to an understanding. One major tournament every four years — the Olympics — is enough. Soccer, where the World Cup is the biggest event, turned Olympic soccer into an under 23 tournament. There is still some good young talent out there, and these are younger players who can handle the additional training and games more easily, but the big name veterans get to rest more.

There are real challenges in getting this done — all centered around money, of course — but it’s the direction basketball needs to go. We’ve seen the data and it’s clear — players need more rest. International competitions cut into that, and there need to be some limits.

And even if they do all that, injuries will happen. It’s part of the game.



Report: Dante Exum diagnosed with torn ACL

Dante Exum

Earlier on Tuesday, Jazz point guard Dante Exum suffered a left-knee injury playing for the Australian national team in an exhibition game in Slovenia. A few hours later, a report indicated that the Jazz were concerned that Exum had suffered a torn ACL. Unfortunately, Utah radio host Tim Montemeyer appears to have confirmed the worst:

This sucks, plain and simple. A second-half surge last season led to the Jazz already making noise as a sexy playoff sleeper pick in the Western Conference, and a leap from Exum, the fifth pick in the 2014 draft, would have been expected to be a big part of that. Now, he’s very likely out the entire season and the Jazz will be left without what they had hoped was one of their foundational players.

Report: Concern Dante Exum tore his ACL

Dante Exum


Dante Exum left today’s Australia-Slovenia exhibition game with a non-contact leg injury.

Just how bad is it?

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

A torn ACL would likely sideline Exum for the entire NBA season – which would just be devastating for him and Utah.

Exum became the Jazz’s starting point guard last season, playing a big part in their second-half defensive surge. His youth, athleticism and raw tools suggests an offensive progression could follow. A torn ACL could significantly alter his career arc.

Utah could challenge for a playoff berth this season, though that would become more difficult without Exum. Everything could finally click for Trey Burke, but it’s not comforting to have all your eggs in that basket. Alec Burks could spend more time at point guard, but that would leave shooting guard depth lacking. The Jazz have the cap room to sign another point guard, but the market is thin. There’s just no easy solution if Exum tore his ACL.

We’ll know soon enough whether these fears are founded.

Jazz guard Dante Exum leaves exhibition game with non-contact injury (video)

Dante Exum

Update: Jazz release:


Dante Exum, playing for Australia in an exhibition against Slovenia, suffered a bad-looking injury.

Damir Radenovic of Kosarka.si

With Exum, Utah projects to be strong contenders for a playoff berth this season. He overtook Trey Burke as the Jazz’s starting point guard last year, playing a key role in their strong second-half offense. Exum is 20 and athletic, so there’s plenty of time for his offense to catch up.

These international games aid his development. But, as we see, they also carry risk.

Hopefully, Exum is OK. He also left a summer-league game with what appeared to be a serious injury, and that turned out to be minor. That he returned to the bench is an encouraging sign.

Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo make surprise appearances for Team Africa in NBA exhibition game (VIDEO)

Houston Rockets Championship Anniversary Luncheon

A contingent of current and former NBA players have spent the past week in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the league’s annual Basketball Without Borders clinic. But this year’s edition of the event is special in that it includes the NBA’s first-ever officially sanctioned exhibition game on the content of Africa. The game features a team of African NBA players including Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo against “Team World,” which features the likes of Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Marcus Smart and the Gasol brothers.

Fans in South Africa got an extra surprise during the game on Saturday: two of the most legendary African players in NBA history, and two of the most important ambassadors for the sport in Africa, suited up along with the current players. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and second all-time leading shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo checked into the game in throwback Rockets and Nuggets jerseys, respectively:

Olajuwon scored on the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic using his patented “Dream Shake”:

And Mutombo got a stop against the Jazz’ Trey Burke:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week that it’s only a matter of time until the NBA plays a regular-season game in Africa. This exhibition game is just the first step in that direction. But it was cool to see two legends in action alongside current players helping to grow the sport all over the world.