While Caris LeVert was an important piece of this week’s big, four-team trade that saw former NBA MVP James Harden join the Brooklyn Nets, it may be some time before he debuts with his new club, the Indiana Pacers.
As relayed by ESPN, an MRI revealed a small mass on LeVert’s left kidney while he was undergoing a physical that was required to complete the blockbuster deal. Consequently, the 26-year-old guard/forward has been ruled out indefinitely by Indiana.
Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement that the organization would support LeVert as he deals with the newly discovered issue with the assumption that he’ll eventually be able to return to the hardwood. He also noted that the burgeoning star’s “basketball skill and on court play speaks for itself” and maintained that he “has a great career ahead of him.”
For his part, LeVert thanked the Pacers for the thoroughness of their medical staff during his examination and further expressed an enthusiasm for joining the team as soon as he is able.
LeVert was initially shipped to the Houston Rockets as part of the franchise’s compensation package for moving Harden to Brooklyn. However, an agreement to swap him for Indiana’s Victor Oladipo — whose contract will expire following the current season — had already been in place to complete the multi-faceted transaction.
Although this level of medical discovery, which could be construed as a failed physical, could be grounds for terminating the deal, the Pacers elected to proceed as planned. According to a Twitter report from The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, they will be the recipients of further cash considerations and an additional second-round draft pick (originally destined for Brooklyn) in light of LeVert’s changing situation.
LeVert actually entered the association as a late first-round pick of the Pacers in 2016, only to have his rights traded to the Nets in exchange for big man Thaddeus Young. In spite of his late draft position and initial concerns about a foot injury that had ended his collegiate career prematurely, he went on to become one of the league’s better first-year players, starting in 26 games as a rookie.
Over the next few years, he improved steadily under head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets’ vaunted player development program. Last season was his best yet, as he averaged nearly 19 points, six assists and four rebounds per contest, as tracked by Basketball-Reference.
LeVert continued to play at a high level this season, despite ceding some minutes as a byproduct of his squad’s improving roster. With the Pacers, though, he’s expected to be a full-time starter and key cog offensively.