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Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz teammates rally around their 'brother' Dante Exum amid another injury setback

#Exum
(NBA Getty Images)

The Utah Jazz are a team that have been known to have one of the best cultures in the NBA, and for a guy like Dante Exum, who's dealing with another injury setback, that's something he can rely on as he starts another slow road to recovery from the sideline.

Earlier this week, Exum suffered a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee and is out indefinitely as the Jazz seek options on how to best treat the injury.

This marks the latest in a long list of devastating setbacks that Exum has had in his five-year NBA career.

When Exum went down with this injury, it was only his third game back after suffering an ankle sprain and bone bruising, which kept him out for 25 games.

Prior to this season, Exum had spent significant time sidelined with freak injuries including an ACL injury that he suffered in 2015 whilst playing for the Australian Boomers, a shoulder injury, a separated left shoulder in 2017 and then a left hamstring injury in the 2018 playoffs.

With the 23-year-old back in Utah resting and waiting to hear what the plan of attack is for his road to recovery, he's still at the front of mind for his teammates, who are on the other side of the country after defeating the New York Knicks 137-116 on Wednesday.

"He's obviously had a bit of a rough ride from the start, five years ago now. I think for him he knows what he's getting himself into," Joe Ingles told NBA Australia. "He knows what he'll have to do once he gets the diagnosis and whatever they decide what he'll have to do."

"But I think all our team will support him," Ingles continued.

"It's been tough for him but we're here for him to help him out, whatever he needs," said fellow point guard Ricky Rubio, who has also dealt with injury issues this year.

Rubio then paused, took a deep breath and said, "When a teammate goes down like that, it's not just a teammate, it's a brother and we want to help him get through a tough time.

"Especially with the history that he has with so many injuries, and he was having a good year. It's just about being there for him and not forgetting him. We need him on the court and off the court."

"Keep in touch with him, knowing that he's going through a tough time," Rubio added. "Just keeping him in the loop of the team, texting him here and there, seeing him when we're home and being around him."

One of Exum's closest teammates is Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell has credited Exum with being one of the guys who really helped him and supported him in his rookie season last year and Mitchell wants to make sure that he's returning the favor.

"With him I've seen three of his injuries, I didn't see the big ones obviously but it's so tough to go through stuff like that," Mitchell told NBA Australia. "I'm just being his friend as opposed to being his teammate and being someone he can kind of lean on and talk to.

"I think we all play a role, Joe especially, obviously being from Australia. We're all trying to find ways to keep him encouraged, keep him upbeat, because those nights get lonely." Mitchell added. "I was hurt at the beginning of the year and I remember that it was tough so I can only imagine what he's going through but just keeping it positive with him and keeping him smiling."

Prior to his ankle sprain in January, Exum was on arguably the best stretch of his career over late December and early January.

"Even this year we saw that great stretch where he got back from his ankle injury and was playing unreal," Ingles said.

The run included a 15-point performance in the Jazz's Christmas Day win against Portland along with a 20-point performance against childhood friend Ben Simmons and a 13-point, 13-assist game in the Jazz's huge win over the Knicks.

"We know what he can do to help our team and obviously the key is to get him healthy right now and once he's back we'll obviously welcome him with open arms and hope that he gets back to that level that he's proved he can play at."

This season Exum was averaging 6.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in 15.8 minutes.

More news on the full extent of Exum's injury and timetable for return is expected in the coming days.

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