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Sacramento • The knee that launched what's felt like a thousand blocked shots is on the mend, its sprained medial collateral ligament held snuggly in place and protected by a brace Rudy Gobert thinks makes him like RoboCop.

"It could be worse," Gobert, the Jazz's defensive dynamo (who has actually only blocked 267 shots in his young NBA career) said Tuesday evening as his teammates prepared to face off against the Sacramento Kings. "It's getting better every day."

But a week after he suffered a grade-2 MCL sprain in practice, it remains unclear when Gobert might next suit up for the Jazz.

And make no mistake, the 23-year-old upon whose promising future the Utah Jazz have pinned so many hopes, will be taking a long-term approach when it comes to his health.

"It's going to be 100 percent," he said. "I'm not going to be back if it's not 100 percent. This type of injury, it's not like a sprained ankle when you can come back with a little bit of pain. It's a ligament. So if I'm not 100 percent, I won't come back."

Gobert added, "It's painful not to be able to play, but I'd rather miss a couple games more and be sure and not miss four more months because it's not healed and I get hurt again."

The good news for Jazz fans: Gobert is inching his way in that direction with each day that passes.

Last Wednesday, Gobert was in a familiar spot: under the rim, playing defense. But when a teammate fell into his legs, the Jazz were sent into uncertainty.

"I felt the pain on the side right away," Gobert said. "I felt a little crack, not too bad, but I felt a crack."

Some feared the worst for Gobert, a torn ACL or some other knee injury that would rob him of the rest of the year.

Not Gobert.

"I knew it wasn't going to be [a season-ending injury] because I could walk right away," he said. "I knew I wasn't going to play the day after for sure."

It will take longer than that. A sprained MCL can take 6-8 weeks to fully heal. That would mean the Jazz, who split their first two games without Gobert, could be without their defensive anchor for 20 games or more.

Missing Gobert, who averages 9 points, 11 rebounds and 2.6 blocks a game, the impact so far have been about what you might expect: the Jazz have picked up the pace, spread the floor and amped up their offense, but unquestionably their defense has suffered without the 7-foot Frenchman in the middle.

"That kid Gobert," as Kings coach George said, "he's good."

And, fortunately for the Jazz, he's getting better.

A week into his rehab, Gobert said he's largely pain free, able to ride an exercise bike and do some weight lifting.

"It's doing great right now, so we'll see how it goes," he said.

Twitter: @tribjazz