Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler will be out at least one more week, the team announced Monday. But the second-year rim protector has been cleared to resume basketball contact during practices after sitting out the last two weeks to rehab his left elbow sprain.
“I’m excited to get back out there but, you know, I don’t want to want to skip out on or skimp out on any of the treatment,” Kessler said.
Kessler injured his elbow just two minutes into the first game of the season. In the Jazz’s opening game against the Sacramento Kings, center Domantas Sabonis spun with Kessler’s elbow hooked at his side, causing the elbow sprain. The Jazz center tried to play through the elbow soreness through the season’s first eight games, but played ineffectively, averaging just eight points and eight rebounds per game.
“I don’t believe in excuses at any point,” Kessler said. “I obviously didn’t have a great start, but definitely feeling a lot better about my situation now.”
READ MORE: Tribune writer Eric Walden spoke to an orthopedic surgeon about Kessler’s ulnar collateral ligament sprain last week.
Being cleared for basketball contact means that he can participate in full contact practices, beginning with two-on-two action, and then working his way up from there. In general, the Jazz aren’t practicing at full speed in 5-on-5 action very much at the moment, as they try to keep their players healthy for the multiple games per week that come with the NBA’s 82-game schedule.
The Jazz are 2-3 in Kessler’s absence, but have generally played better since — though the center’s stint on the injury report also coincides with rookie sensation Keyonte George’s graduation into the starting lineup.
The Jazz are coming off two close losses to the Suns, including Sunday’s 140-137 loss in double overtime.
“I just want to say: those guys are unbelievable fighters,” Kessler said. “I mean, [Sunday] night’s game was — obviously, we’re not happy with that we lost — but I mean, just an unbelievable game. Unbelievable fight,” Kessler said. “I think we’re a lot better than what our record shows. And I think that throughout the season, that’ll continue to be apparent.”