The wretched luck for the Utah Jazz this season has continued its run.
Starting forward Thabo Sefolosha has suffered an MCL injury and could be lost for the remainder of the season, sources tell The Tribune. According to sources, Sefolosha and his camp are seeking additional opinions. A final decision is likely to be made in the coming days, but the end result is like to be surgery on his right knee, which could put him out for at least six months, sources say.
Sefolosha suffered the injury in Friday night’s 99-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. He left the game in the second half and didn’t return.
On the floor, Sefolosha’s absence would be a difficult blow. The Jazz are a plus-4.9 net rating with the veteran on the floor this season and minus-4.6 without him. He’s been a versatile piece capable of guarding different positions and offensively, he’s been better than advertised.
Sefolosha is averaging 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and 49 percent overall, he’s been able to make plays off the dribble. He’s an effective cutter off the ball, which has led to layups and easy shots.
He’s arguably been even more valuable off the floor. He’s emerged as one of the true leaders in the locker room and a mentor for younger players such as rookie Donovan Mitchell.
In his absence, Joe Johnson and Jonas Jerebko will get increased minutes at power forward in a two-man rotation instead of three. The Jazz are also expected to sign power forward Georges Niang on a two-way deal, sources say, after they released Naz Long on Saturday. Sefolosha’s absence creates more of an opportunity for rookie Royce O’Neale, who has emerged in past weeks and is becoming a consistent rotation piece.
More than anything, Sefolosha is the latest in a three-year injury run for Utah. This season, the Jazz have lost Rudy Gobert twice for extended periods of time plus Dante Exum, Raul Neto and now Sefolosha. Gobert, according to sources, will miss another week with a sprained PCL and a bone bruise. Exum, who had preseason surgery on a separated shoulder, has returned to basketball activities, but is not close to a return. Neto has begun some practice activities in a return from a concussion and leg injury.
The Jazz (17-25) next play on Monday night at home against the Indiana Pacers.