SALT LAKE CITY — The bad news the Utah Jazz feared about Dante Exum was confirmed by their medical staff.
The injury Exum suffered earlier this week was indeed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the team announced Wednesday.
Exum underwent an MRI at the University of Utah Health Care's Orthopaedic Center and was examined by team physicians Dr. Travis Maak and Dr. David Petron.
The Jazz haven't announced it, but Exum's injury will require reconstructive ACL surgery in his left knee. As is standard procedure with athlete injuries, Exum will get multiple other opinions on his injury and the best option for treatment.
Although no timetable has been set, it's also unlikely that Exum will play for the Jazz in the 2015-16 season.
At this point, the Jazz are far more concerned about Exum than they are how his absence might affect the team.
"First and foremost, our overriding concern is with Dante and his long-term health," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said in a statement released by the team.
"We are continuing to work closely with our medical staff, Dante and his representation in order to reach an accurate diagnosis and recommended treatment so that we can provide him with the best possible care. We all know how hard he will work to make a full recovery and look forward to his return to play."
Exum, who turned 20 last month, has youth on his side, which is a big advantage in major injuries like this. There have been multiple success stories of young guards who played well after undergoing a similar ACL surgery, including Baron Davis, Kyle Lowry and Jamal Crawford.
The Jazz have three other point guards on their current roster, including former starter Trey Burke, recently signed Brazilian playmaker Raul Neto and summer league standout Bryce Cotton, who's on a nonguaranteed deal.
Exum injured his left knee Tuesday while playing for the Australian national team during an international friendly in Slovenia. Lindsey said he received a call minutes after the injury from Jazz assistant coach Jeff Watkinson, who was with Exum in Europe.
After the Australian medical staff made an initial diagnosis of a torn ACL, the Jazz paid for Exum and Watkinson to return to Utah so he could be evaluated by the NBA team's doctors.
In his weekly interview with 1280 The Zone, Lindsey said Exum arrived in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night. He then began what the Jazz GM called "prehab," which included receiving treatment to reduce swelling and increase joint mobility. That prehab, Lindsey added, is "very critical to having good outcomes." Lindsey is also encouraged that Exum can fully extend his left leg.
In order to help provide the best rehab path possible, the Jazz have studied all NBA ACL injuries that have happened since 1970. Lindsey, hoping to give Exum any advantage possible, wants to know what happened in the good and bad outcomes.
Lindsey recalled how the Jazz were able to help former center Al Jefferson play well and healthy despite his previous ACL surgery.
"We’ve seen this before unfortunately," Lindsey said. "There’s no way to put guys in bubble wrap. You've got to the let them play."
Lindsey said team doctors will continue to explore the MRI exam results and run tests to make sure they don't miss diagnosing possible further damage to the knee.
A surgery won't be scheduled until additional medical opinions are sought.
"Our sole focus is totally on Dante Exum," Lindsey said, "and making sure we do the best job possible for him going forward."
Lindsey admitted it's been a "rough week" for him and the Jazz, whose hearts go out to Exum and his family.
"The first gut reaction," Lindsey added, "is a very paternal reaction."