Rockets hopeful of Dante Exum return in second half of season

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Ben DuBose
·2 min read
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Newly acquired guard Dante Exum remains sidelined indefinitely with a high-grade calf strain suffered in early January, according to Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas. The initial prognosis was for Exum to miss up to two months, and it seems it could be even more than that.

Exum, who is making $9.6 million this season on an expiring contract, was acquired largely for salary reasons as part of January’s blockbuster trade headlined by James Harden, Victor Oladipo, and Caris LeVert.

Nonetheless, the No. 5 overall pick from the 2014 NBA draft is still only 25 years old, and he’s become known over the years as a valuable perimeter defender. Thus, if he can get healthy, he could be a contributor in Houston. Over portions of six NBA seasons, the 6-foot-5 guard has averaged 5.7 points and 2.1 assists in 18.6 minutes per game.

When asked about Exum before Sunday’s game, Silas said:

His prognosis is getting better. I believe he’s still in the (walking) boot, if I’m not mistaken.

It’s hard for him. He’s kind of on an island. He’s in on some of our film sessions, he’s doing his recovery and rehab, and all of that. But he was traded here injured, and hasn’t really gotten a chance to be part of the group, which is unfortunate for him. When all of that stuff (winter storm) was happening in Houston, we were on the road and he was here. He didn’t have water and electricity. That’s not a great thing for one of your players.

He’s coming along slowly. I don’t really have a timetable, as far as when after the All-Star break that he will be available. But when he is available, we’ll definitely welcome him with open arms. Not only the basketball part, but also the teammate part.

Whenever Exum is able to return to the team in the second half of the season, he could figure into Houston’s guard rotation behind established veterans John Wall, Eric Gordon and Oladipo. Then again, thanks to Exum’s expiring salary, he may also be a candidate to be dealt again before the NBA’s March 25 trade deadline — should that salary figure be needed to help make the salary-cap math work on a potential deal.

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