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Hornets’ Cody Zeller has torn medial meniscus in left knee, out indefinitely

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It’s been a rough week for the Charlotte Hornets. First, coach Steve Clifford had to take a leave of absence from the team for personal health reasons. Stephen Silas gets welcomed to the big coaching chair by having to go against the Golden State Warriors, and a fully unleashed Kevin Durant. Now comes this:

Backup center Cody Zeller has suffered a torn medial meniscus in his left knee, the team announced Thursday. Zeller is out indefinitely as is considering his treatment options, according to the team (surgery is possible depending on the type and severity of the tear). The injury occurred in the third quarter against the Warriors Wednesday.

Zeller is giving the Hornets nearly 20 minutes a night off the bench, and he’s been solid in that role averaging 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds a night. He plays around the basket, 75 percent of his shots come at the rim, but he has struggled this season to finish a little and is shooting just 50 percent inside the restricted area.

With Zeller out, expect to see a lot more Johnny O’Bryant and Treveon Graham.

The Hornets also announced that forward Frank Kaminsky suffered a sprained right ankle against Golden State and is out for Friday’s game against Chicago. He is day-to-day after that.

All of this is another blow for a 9-14 Hornets team that is fighting to get back into the playoff picture in the East. They need to find more consistent offense, and losing key rotational big men is not going to help that.

Jazz eat fully guaranteed salary of Grant Jerrett

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The Jazz entered training camp with 13 players – two below the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries.

That seemingly made it unlikely three Utah players who belong in the NBA – Jeff Withey ($200,000 guaranteed), Elijah Millsap (unguaranteed) and Bryce Cotton (unguaranteed) – would all survive the preseason.

But the Jazz cleared a spot by waiving Grant Jerrett, whose minimum salary was fully guaranteed fro this season.

Utah already waived Jack Cooley and J.J. O'Brien. So, Treveon Graham and Chris Johnson remain in competition with Withey, Millsap and Cotton to make the regular-season roster.

My money is on those latter three.Withey has the largest guarantee and has an NBA skill in shot-blocking. Millsap defends well. Cotton might be the least accomplished, but the Jazz could use another point guard with Dante Exum injured.

Jerrett will go on waivers and has an outside shot of being claimed. He’s just 22, and his contract – two unguaranteed seasons following this one – offers upside. Teams value stretch fours like him. Plus, his length and athleticism provide defensive potential. Most likely, though, his injuries cause teams to pass.

Report: Jazz not interested in Anthony Bennett

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The 76ers and Trail Blazers have enough cap space to claim Anthony Bennett, whom the Timberwolves just waived in conjunction with a buyout agreement.

The Cavaliers also have a trade exception large enough to claim him.

Plus, a fourth team – the Jazz – could easily make room for Bennett’s $5,803,560 salary.

Utah would just need to waive two of Chris Johnson,Jeff Withey,Grant Jerrett,Raul Neto,Jack Cooley, Bryce Cotton,Elijah Millsap,Treveon Grahamand J.J. O'Brien (though a Graham-O’Brien combo wouldn’t work).


Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Utah has theoretical cap room, but its roster is almost full, and it’s not touching Bennett, per several league sources.

The Jazz are set with Derrick Favors as starting power forward, but I’m hardly sold on his backups – Trevor Booker, Trey Lyles and Grant Jerrett.

Bennett – while worse than Booker right now and maybe having less upside than Lyles – would strengthen that group. There’s a reason the Cavaliers drafted Bennett No. 1 and he held a consensus top-10 rating just two years ago. Bennett is still only 22, and his shooting and athleticism offer potential, even if it’s unlikely he realizes his potential.

Simply, Utah could hedge its bets with another talented player.

But the Jazz are also building a culture, and the lethargic Bennett might not fit. He’s especially a long way from defending the way Utah coach Quin Snyder demands.

More importantly, $5,803,560 is a lot of money to pay Bennett. Rather than tie up that cap space now, the Jazz can – and seemingly, will – wait for a better deal to emerge.