A day after Phil Jackson singled out Mehmet Okur as one of the major keys to Utah’s attack, we learned from the Salt Lake Tribune’s Ross Siler that Okur may not recover in time for Sunday’s game from his strained right hamstring that he aggravated against the L.A. Clippers on Monday.
“Mehmet is starting to be a pretty big question mark for the Jazz,” said Siler, who joined us for a playoff podcast Friday afternoon. “He said he’s not getting a lot better, he still has a lot of soreness and tightness in his hamstring. He hasn’t done any court work, and today was the Jazz’s last chance to have a full practice because (on Saturday) they’re going to hold what would be the equivalent of a shootaround since there isn’t time for one before (Sunday’s game).”
In a telling move, the Jazz recalled rookie center Kosta Koufos from the D-League – the Utah Flash are in the middle of the playoffs – to provide some low post depth in case Okur can’t go. Siler said that from what he learned after Utah’s practice, he wouldn’t expect Okur to play because he simply “Can’t do any running.”
Yet it’s the playoffs, and the Lakers will prepare as if Okur – who averages 17 points and 7.7 boards a game – is playing. They’ll adjust accordingly if he’s on Sunday’s inactive list.
And, if Okur can’t play, it’s a big loss for the Jazz, particularly because his 44.6 three-point shooting percentage (sixth in the NBA) forces opposing bigs to step out of the lane. Though Pau Gasol’s adept in that area, it remains a tough thing to focus upon since it’s so unusual. Okur’s absence would also hurt Utah’s low post defense on a team that’s already undersized.