Utah Jazz: Williams set to return tonight against Philadelphia

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Posted: 10:29 AM- PHILADELPHIA - A little more than three weeks after he sprained his ankle in an Oct. 18 preseason game, Deron Williams is expected to make his return for the Jazz in Tuesday night's game against Philadelphia.

Williams told Jazz coach Jerry Sloan that he intended to play, although Williams later told reporters he would be a game-time decision. Williams averaged 37.3 minutes for the Jazz last season, but Sloan said he would be used "sparingly" against the 76ers.

"I'm probably not going to play 40 minutes tonight. I don't think my wind or my ankle" will allow it, Williams said at the pregame shootaround. "The problem with playing games is that, at the same time, it's not good to sit out because then the ankle gets stiff.

"I don't know what coach has in store. If I play, we'll find out."

Sloan said he also would give 19-year-old rookie center Kosta Koufos his first NBA start with Mehmet Okur having traveled to Turkey to attend to a family illness. Koufos has played in only two of the Jazz's six games so far, for a total of seven minutes.

"If nothing else, he deserves a chance because he's worked hard every single day," Sloan said. "There hasn't been a day that he hasn't worked hard in practice. Whatever drills we have him do, he gives you full effort on every one of them.

"Let him have a chance to play. We're shorthanded. He's probably as capable as anybody we could put out there right now."

The Jazz will have only 11 players in uniform, including Williams.

Okur has taken leave, Jarron Collins is still recovering from a right elbow injury and Kyrylo Fesenko had to fly to Toronto to resolve a visa issue.

The Jazz were insistent that Koufos keep his visa appointment, even though his representatives believe the opportunity for the second-year center to play in Okur's absence was of even greater importance.

Williams, meanwhile, will have missed six games with the second-degree ankle sprain, which he suffered when he landed on the foot of Chicago guard Derrick Rose while landing on a three-point attempt.

Williams said he was uncertain how he would handle the Jazz's stretch of four games in five nights to finish this trip - "That I don't know. We've got to see how it feels after the game" - and acknowledge there was "a little bit" more urgency to return with Okur out.