On a crucial jump ball that probably should have never happened in the first place with 13 seconds remaining in a one-point game last night, Jeff Teague appeared to seriously injure his left knee as Gary Harris fell into him.
In a mosh pit of players hungry to gain possession of the ball, Teague remained on the floor in obvious discomfort after Taj Gibson secured the rock and was fouled by Will Barton. The Wolves starting point guard, and highest paid player on the roster at $19 million, limped off the court slowly in tremendous pain. After Jimmy Butler put on an MVP type showing in overtime to lead the Wolves over the Nuggets, scoring every clutch bucket he possibly could (12 of the 14 overtime points), Teague limped gingerly through the locker room.
While the team pulled out another close win to keep hold of the fourth seed in the West, the most critical question on most people’s minds after the game was how bad is Teague’s injury?
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Teague will be out indefinitely after spraining the MCL in his left knee. The good news is the MRI revealed no structural damage. The bad news is there’s no telling at this point how long he will be sidelined for, leaving the Wolves undermanned at point guard. Teague’s status should become a little more clear after further examination over the next week.
MRI revealed that Minnesota guard Jeff Teague has a sprained left knee, but there's no structural damage, league sources tell ESPN. He will be out of lineup for indefinite period of time.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 28, 2017
The ACL wasn't compromised at all and that should bring a sigh of relief to everyone, but as our old Canis friend Lucas Seehafer notes on Twitter, Teague is certainly going to be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Tough to know for sure, but grade 1/2 MCL sprains typically take a couple weeks to a month. Grade 3 is typically minimum of 6 weeks, but varies depending on if surgery is needed. https://t.co/BUJqM9nzUN— Lucas Seehafer (@loseehafer) December 28, 2017
Now it’s time for Tyus Jones to once again step up in Teague’s place. He did it earlier this season when Teague sat out four straight games with a sore right Achilles. The Wolves went 2-2 during that stretch that saw Jones take control of the head point guard duties in a very positive way.
“I love the way Tyus plays,” said Butler when asked about his confidence in Jones stepping up. “He plays basketball the right way and he takes and makes big shots all the time; the most outstanding player in the tournament, don’t forget that, Tyus Jones. But he’s a phenomenal point guard, and especially when he’s out there just playing; he’s going to be in this league for a very long time.”
The Wolves should also look to add another point guard to the roster moving forward. Aaron Brooks is the only other one currently on the team, though Jamal Crawford can, and likely will in the short term, play the point. Butler is more than capable of being the lead guard as well. But even with that being said, Thibodeau and Layden are going to need to add another point guard to the mix. They have had an open roster spot all season and now it’s time to use it.
The game tonight in Milwaukee will bring another opportunity for Jones to prove he has what it takes to be a solid starting point guard, as the Wolves take on the Bucks on the road back-to-back. And moving forward, they’re going to need everything the former Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, as Butler likes to remind everyone in his postgame interviews, has to give.
“As always, whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll be ready to do,” said Jones after the win over Denver on Wednesday night. “I’m hoping Jeff is alright, I never want to see anyone go down with an injury. It’s next one up and I’m ready to step in and help this team either way.”
Jones has been outstanding this season, making major strides in year three, and he’s ready for this moment. The numbers show it, too. The lineup of Jones-Wiggins-Butler-Gibson-Towns has played 93 minutes this season and have been +10.9 points per 100 possessions on the floor together.
It’s next man up in Minnesota and it’s Tyus Jones’ time to step up.