After receiving the news of Jermaine O'Neal's season-ending injury just one day ago, an identical situation has presented itself with Josh Howard.
The 32-year-old forward, who started 18-of-41 games this season, has made a solid contribution to the team, averaging nine points along with four rebounds.
Earlier today, the Jazz released a statement in which they explained that Howard had a chip in cartilage in his knee. After a MRI, it was found that the knee would require surgery. In a shortened season with only 21 games remaining (for the Jazz), Howard is expected to miss the remaining portion of the season treating his injured left knee.
The Jazz, who have been doing surprisingly well (23-22) this year, will not miss too much in the absence of veteran Josh Howard. Although Howard did work his way into the starting five and has been playing exceptionally well ever since All-Star break, sophomore Gordon Hayward will serve as a commendable replacement during his time out.
Hayward (10 PPG, 3 RPG, 3 APG), who in my opinion actually has the upper hand on Howard, will most likely perform better than Howard, although the team altogether may not.
Even though that might not exactly make sense right off the bat, here's why it does: The Jazz previously started Howard, who was capable of scoring as well as playing defense. Early on, the Jazz would sub in Hayward, along with the other role players. Hayward was the leader of this group and the first option on offense.
However, with Howard out, it would mean that Hayward would start (not being the first scoring option this time), and Jeremy Evans or DeMarre Carroll would fill in the role that Gordon Hayward had before. Combined, Evans and Carroll are averaging five points a game. Hopefully the Jazz can work something out, like shifting Alec Burks over to the 3 position or something of the same sort.
Either way, this injury hits the Jazz a lot harder than it seems.