The Utah Jazz small forward has a chip in the lateral femoral cartilage in his left knee that will require surgery to repair in order to prevent further damage.
Howard’s knee experienced recent swelling, which led to him undergoing an MRI test on the Jazz’s day off Monday. The Jazz’s team orthopedist, Dr. Lyle Mason, determined the knee would require surgery this afternoon.
The 6-foot-7 Howard played in 41 games for the Jazz this season, and had recently moved into a starting role. The nine-year NBA veteran and former All-Star averaged 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists for the 23-22 Jazz.
The injury was announced this afternoon, so it’s uncertain who will fill in for Howard as the team’s starting small forward.
Second-year swingman Gordon Hayward started the first 36 games, but he was moved to a reserve role when Raja Bell returned from an injury a couple of weeks ago. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin has liked how Hayward has responded with the ball in his hands more often with that second unit.
C.J. Miles is starting for Bell in tonight’s Jazz game against the Oklahoma City in place of Bell, who is out again with a strained left adductor.
Though Hayward is likely to get the start, Corbin could also put on-the-rise rookie Alec Burks in the starting shooting guard spot and move Miles to the small forward position.
Howard’s absence will open up more playing opportunities for the likes of second-year forward Jeremy Evans and perhaps even rarely used forward DeMarre Carroll, who has only seen action once since being picked up by the Jazz on Feb. 8.