Caris LeVert: ‘This trade could have saved me in the long run’

0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Caris LeVert arrived in Indianapolis last week feeling perfectly fine.

He was eager to meet his new teammates, join the starting lineup and make his Pacers debut. Then came the shocking news from Indiana’s team doctors: They found a small mass on LeVert’s left kidney.

Suddenly everything went on hold and now, as LeVert awaits test results to find out if the growth is cancerous, the 6-foot-6 guard realizes just how fortunate he was to be included in last week’s blockbuster trade.

“I hadn’t missed any games this season yet. I was 100% healthy,” he said during a video call Tuesday. “In a way this trade showed and revealed what was going on in my body. So I’m definitely looking at it from that side and definitely humbled to know that that this trade could have saved me in the long run.”

If he hadn’t gone from Brooklyn to Houston in the James Harden deal, then from the Rockets to Indiana in exchange for Victor Oladipo last Wednesday, it’s unclear when – or if – the mass would have been detected.

LeVert spent his first 4 1/2 seasons with the Nets after the Pacers selected him in the first round of the 2016 NBA draft. After a solid rookie season, his scoring average increased each of the next three seasons and this season started as his best yet. He was averaging 18.5 points, a career high 6.0 assists and a career best 4.3 rebounds prior to the trade.

Though teams conduct physicals at the start of each season, LeVert wasn’t sure if the Nets ever scanned his lower back. That changed when he joined the Pacers, who came up with a diagnosis LeVert never expected.

“A lot of things creeped through my mind,” he said. “I really didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know the next steps, I didn’t know if the trade was going to go through. Obviously, it did and I think that’s a testament to this organization and not only how good of people they are but how much they believe in me. That was huge for me. I just can’t wait to get healthy and get back on the court.”

When that will be nobody yet knows. And until LeVert does return, first-year coach Nate Bjorkgren will be dealing with a short-handed roster.

LeVert was expected to replace Oladipo in the lineup and help add scoring punch with T.J. Warren out indefinitely after having surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot. While Bjorkgren said he’s hopeful the Pacers’ top scorer from last season returns, he acknowledged the front office continues to work on a rehab plan.

Center Myles Turner, the NBA blocks leader, went down last weekend with a fractured right hand. Team officials said surgery won’t be necessary and listed Turner as day to day. It’s possible Turner could play Wednesday night against Dallas with some extra padding protecting the hand.

“He could have very easily sat on this, sat out two or three weeks and no way – he’s not having any of it,” Bjorkgren said. “He told me he was practicing today. He’s been saying this for two or three days since that happened. So I appreciate the toughness and the persistence he has.”

The good news is guard Jeremy Lamb‘s return could give Indiana another scorer. He hasn’t played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last February but has been practicing and Bjorkgren said he expects Lamb back “very soon.”

And if LeVert makes it back, well, the Pacers could be near full strength perhaps in time for the playoffs.

But, for now, LeVert has pushed those hopes to the side so he can focus on getting healthy enough to make it back onto the court.

“To me, the most important thing is to get my body healthy and make sure I live a long life,” he said. “I’m not really looking at that (basketball) side of things right now. Obviously, I want to play as soon as possible. I’m a competitor. I love to play the game. But I think health wise, that’s the most important thing. As far as time line, we’ll figure that out in the future, but right now we just don’t have those answers.”

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

Getty Photo
0 Comments

Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
Jun Sato/WireImage
0 Comments

The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

0 Comments

Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

0 Comments

No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.