MRI shows no damage to Williams' sprained left ankle

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz will be opening the regular season without their top player.

Point guard Deron Williams is out for at least two weeks with a sprained ankle, the Jazz said Monday, two days after Williams was injured in a preseason game at Chicago.

Results from an MRI done Monday morning showed no damage to the bone and tendons around the ankle, but the second-degree sprain will keep Williams out of the lineup for a minimum of two weeks, the Jazz said. That would include the first two games of the regular season, which starts next Wednesday when the Jazz host Denver.

Utah is likely to be extra cautious with the team's young leader, who averaged almost 19 points and 10.5 assists last season and has led the Jazz to the playoffs in two of his three years in the NBA.

"You can't worry about those things. Anybody can get hurt. That's just part of the business," coach Jerry Sloan said before Monday's practice.

The Jazz knew Williams would be out for a while after he was carried off the court Saturday after landing on Chicago rookie Derrick Rose's foot on a 3-pointer in the first quarter.

If Williams is out only two weeks, he could be back in time for the third game. A three-week recovery would leave Utah shorthanded through the first six games. Anything beyond that isn't something the Jazz want to think about just yet.

"We have a system here and it doesn't really take one set point guard to run the system," said Ronnie Price, who is most likely to temporarily inherit the starting job. "We hope that he has a quick, safe recovery. Until he gets back, we're going have to do without."

Price has also been hurting with a bruised lower right leg and veteran Brevin Knight, who came to Utah in a summer trade, is out with a jammed left thumb and didn't practice Monday.

Sloan has been tinkering with the lineup during the preseason and already had options beyond Price and Knight in mind before Williams' MRI results were released Monday afternoon.

Swingman C.J. Miles has played some at the point since training camp and Sloan said forward Andrei Kirilenko and shooting guard Ronnie Brewer can also run the offense.

"All those things kind of give you hope if someone gets hurt, maybe you can hang in there a little bit until the guys are back," Sloan said.

But none can run Sloan's system as well as Williams, who got a huge contract extension over the summer and then won an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. national team.

The Jazz would rather have Williams healthy for the end of the season than in November. And the diagnosis Monday from the team doctor could have been much worse, considering how Williams dropped to the court in pain and had to be carried off by Brewer and Miles.

"It's not a good thing that he's hurt, but it happened in the preseason and not in the playoffs," Price said. "It was really scary. I don't like to see anybody get hurt. When it's your teammate and it affects your team, it's not a good feeling."