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Posted: 6:39 PM- Jazz guard Deron Williams will undergo an MRI exam today on his sprained left ankle, with the team waiting to determine how long it expects to be without him until those results are in, general manager Kevin O'Connor said Sunday.
O'Connor said he was encouraged that X-rays taken Saturday came back negative for any broken bones. Williams had to be carried off the court after landing on Chicago guard Derrick Rose's foot and rolling his ankle on a three-point attempt.
Williams was taken by wheelchair to the locker room and left the arena on crutches after the game. O'Connor hadn't talked to Williams on Sunday and couldn't say whether he was more or less encouraged about how long he would be out.
There also was no word as to the degree of the sprain -- mild, moderate or severe -- though the Jazz noted that some players return from severe sprains in the time it takes other players to return from moderate ones.
Williams and his representatives did not return phone and e-mail messages Sunday. The Jazz open the regular season against Denver on Oct. 29. They play their last preseason game Thursday against Portland.
"When you see how hard he's worked this summer and you see how he's prepared himself to play this season and he's in tip-top shape and you just hate to see him go down," Ronnie Price said of Williams.
If Williams is out for a significant period, the Jazz will have to find his replacement from within. They already have 15 players under contract, leaving no open roster spot to sign another point guard.
Price and Brevin Knight are the two backup point guards on the roster. Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles and Ronnie Brewer all could play point guard in an emergency as well, with Miles seeing time at the position in exhibition games.
"We can't change everything we've been trying to do," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said, adding, "You can't call timeout and say, 'Wait till we get some more practice.' "
Sloan played Price with what would be his fourth-quarter lineup in Saturday's victory over the Bulls. Knight, meanwhile, has the experience of an 11-year veteran but is in his first season with the Jazz and has been limited by an injured left thumb.
"Brevin hasn't had much run in what we're trying to do," Sloan said, adding, "He's picked up pretty fast, but the nuances in the game come as you get a little closer to the season."
If he has to start Price in Williams' place, Sloan also might reconsider his decision to start Miles and bring Kirilenko off the bench. In his new role as a sixth man, Kirilenko has been almost a point forward playing alongside Price with the second team.
One thing working in the Jazz's favor is the schedule. They are home for two full weeks and likely will have seven practice days before opening night. Sloan said he would have liked an extra preseason game, but will have the team scrimmage more than usual.
The immediate concern, though, is Williams' return. He has missed only four games in his three-year career, with one the result of a left ankle sprain his rookie season. Matt Harpring also is out indefinitely recovering from an ankle infection.