Ingles was examined Monday by the Utah Jazz medical staff and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing. The MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee with no other structural damage. Ingles will remain out indefinitely with surgery taking place in the next several weeks.
This will end Ingles’ season and almost certainly sideline him to begin next season.
Ingles was already in trade rumors. Now, Utah has even more reason to deal the 34-year-old’s expiring contract.
He wasn’t as involved offensively and his 3-pointers hadn’t fallen as frequently as last season, when he had a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year and finished second to teammate Jordan Clarkson. Ingles’ defense has also slipped considerably as he ages.
On trade-deadline day (Feb. 10), Ingles will still be due $4,288,401 of his base salary. If the Jazz trade him, their luxury-tax liability would decrease by nearly $26 million. So, Utah could pay a team to cover Ingles’ remaining salary, add a sweetener to make it worth that team’s while and come out way ahead financially.
In fact, if unloading Ingles for no return, the Jazz would be just about $1.7 million over the tax line. At that point, they could dump another player or two and escape the tax completely. That’d entitle them to the share of NBA-wide paid luxury tax distributed to non-taxpaying teams – potentially approaching $10 million (depending what tax-avoidance measures other teams take).
If willing to spend, Utah could instead use Ingles’ $13,036,364 expiring contract to facilitate a trade that brings immediate help. The Jazz (30-21) are a good team at a pivotal time in their run as they attempt to prove their playoff bona fides.
Utah would lose Ingles’ Bird Rights if trading him. He’s well-liked in the locker room and knows Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s system well. But even if dealing him, Utah could still use the taxpayer mid-level exception – which projects to be worth more than $6 million – to sign him this summer.
This injury will really dampen the market for Ingles in free agency.