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News » Injury to Miles leaves Jazz small forward spot a trauma unit

Injury to Miles leaves Jazz small forward spot a trauma unit

Injury to Miles leaves Jazz small forward spot a trauma unit So much for the smorgasbord of small forwards. With health setbacks for Matt Harpring and C.J. Miles ? not to mention the offseason departure of Morris Almond ? the Utah Jazz's menu suddenly doesn't have quite the selection of swingmen to serve up that it used to include.

After having a handful of players to choose from the 3-spot last season, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan now only has a couple of guys under contract who regularly play the position and will be available come opening night. The last small forwards standing are Andrei Kirilenko and Kyle Korver, who (gulp) are on the mend from their own preseason injuries. "Remember a year ago, we were like, 'Man, we have so many wings,'?" Korver said. "And now it's like we don't have that many wings. It's definitely a little different scenario than last year." Belated news regarding Miles likely isn't going to fix that problem for a while. Now back from Europe, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor told reporters Sunday that Miles underwent "successful surgery" in New York to repair the ligament in his thumb that was torn during practice in London last Monday. No official timeline for a return was provided, but the starting small forward's left hand will be in a rigid cast for four weeks while his surgically repaired thumb heals. O'Connor said the Jazz will likely have a better feel of how long Miles will be out at that point. Based on similar injuries (Paul Millsap's included), Miles can expect the recovery and rehab time to last about two months total, which would keep him sidelined until December. "He's not going to walk out of a cast in four weeks and then play," O'Connor said. For now, Miles remains in New York where he had his torn ulnar collateral ligament repaired on Wednesday. He will be examined today and likely again Tuesday by Dr. Keith Raskins, who performed the surgery. If his thumb appears to be healing properly, Miles will return to Utah this week. After the Jazz begin the regular season without him, the rehabilitation on Miles' shooting hand will likely begin around early November. That is also when the Jazz expect to get a medical update on the aching-and-ailing Harpring. With those two Jazz veterans' status unknown, it would hardly be shocking if Utah added a 14th player to the roster before then even though the salary-bloated franchise faces significant luxury-tax penalties. "It certainly gives guys opportunities to try and make the team," O'Connor said. For now, the knocking is being heard loudest by Wesley Matthews, Ronald Dupree and Spencer Nelson ? the three small forwards on the squad without guaranteed contracts. Dupree entered camp with NBA experience and some buzz, but Matthews has started the last two games, exploded for 16 points in London against the Chicago Bulls and has been the recipient of preseason praise by Jazz coaches and players. Even if another small forward is added, the Jazz will experiment with using Millsap at small forward. Starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer is another possibility to slide into that position. But Sloan isn't concerning himself with the matters of divvying up playing time or naming a starter at the spot right now. "We'll play somebody," he said. "We're not going to play four on five." "We're going to have to all pick it up together," Korver added. Miles has not publicly commented on his injury yet. But the 22-year-old's teammates are sympathetic to his situation, knowing that he reported to camp in the best shape of his career. "He's doing good physically. He has a little pain," Deron Williams said at practice Sunday. "I think mentally is where he's messed up more, just because he was excited about the season. I know he wants to be out on the court. We were bummed. It's tough." Looking on the bright side, Korver is thankful that much of Miles' missed time will come in the preseason. "It's a big loss," Korver said. "He had a really good summer." Though Sloan sometimes struggled to find minutes for the slew of small forwards last season, the depth at that position looks to be a blessing for the seemingly injury-cursed Jazz . "As long as no one else goes down, I think we'll be all right," Korver said. "But we're obviously going to miss him a lot." Williams just hopes Miles gets back "soon" and "at full strength." He'd prefer having lots of depth there again, especially with one of his closest friends on the team. "We were expecting a lot from C.J.," Williams said. "I think he was going to have a big year for us." e-mail:

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Added: October 13, 2009


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