Josh Howard’s not done yet.
The Jazz announced Tuesday afternoon the veteran small forward will miss the remainder of the regular season due to upcoming left knee surgery.
After experiencing recent swelling, Howard underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday. The test, which was evaluated Tuesday by a team doctor, revealed a chip in Howard’s lateral femoral cartilage.
Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor said Tuesday night Howard will receive a second opinion, though. And Utah’s starting small forward acknowledged he’s hoping for the best when he travels to New York on Wednesday to visit the same doctor who treated him in February 2010, when Howard suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
“It’s tough. But if I can get through ACL surgery and a meniscus tear, I can beat anything,” said Howard, prior to the Jazz’s game against Oklahoma City. “It’s a part of the game and it’s just something I have to deal with. I know I’ll be back.”
Even with surgery, Howard expects to miss only 4-6 weeks. That could put his return in line with a first-round playoff series if Utah qualifies for the postseason.
“I’m always going to be positive with that. Especially if we make it to the playoffs, I want to be around,” Howard said. “If we can get out there and I can contribute, I will. If doc sees best for me not to, then I won’t. But I have to deal with that when it comes.”
The nine-year veteran was promoted March 5 to the Jazz’s starting lineup. He was averaging 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 41 games (18 starts).
Howard, 31, played only 22 games for Washington from 2009-11 while recovering from his ACL injury, which occurred shortly after he was traded by Dallas to the Wizards.
Even if Howard’s lost for the remainder of the 2011-12 season, O’Connor doesn’t plan to add another player to the Jazz’s roster. He said little-used forward DeMarre Carroll will likely see increased action, along with C.J. Miles, Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin started Miles at shooting guard and Hayward at small forward against the Thunder. But with usual starting shooting guard Raja Bell expected to return soon from a strained left groin, Corbin acknowledged nothing’s set with his first unit in the wake of Howard’s expected surgery.
Asked if Bell will continue to start once he returns, Corbin was noncommittal. The 12-year veteran has missed nine of Utah’s past 16 games due to a groin injury, and sat out another contest after a heated confrontation with Corbin forced the Jazz’s coach to send him home early from a five-game road trip.
“We’ll look at the [lineup] the next few days to see what gives us the best chance moving forward,” Corbin said.