INDIANAPOLIS – Taking his normal game-day nap last Wednesday afternoon, ahead of a crosstown matchup with the New York Knicks, Caris LeVert was pretty startled when he woke up.
And, unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of the shocking news LeVert would receive in the coming days.
When LeVert woke up on Wednesday afternoon, he had hundreds and hundreds of texts and calls from people alerting him that he was moving NBA homes for the first time in his career.
The destination was back to the Midwest, which LeVert loved.
Before the trade was finalized, LeVert had to pass a rather routine physical with the Pacers. It was then that a lower body back scan revealed a small mass on LeVert’s left kidney.
LeVert’s world was shook.
He hadn’t felt anything wrong with his body in playing every game for the Nets this season.
Now, when LeVert returns to the basketball court is up in the air.
Surgery is coming in the next few days for LeVert. Pacers team president Kevin Pritchard says LeVert likely won’t begin basketball activities again until mid-March, at the earliest.
For now though, the 26-year-old LeVert is focused on his upcoming procedure, as he still isn’t sure if the mass is cancerous or not.
“The most important thing is to get my body healthy and that I live a long life,” the uber positive LeVert said on Tuesday afternoon in meeting the Indy media for the first time since the trade. “Before basketball, that’s the most important thing. For me, I’m not really looking at that side of things.
“Obviously, I want to play as soon as possible. I’m a competitor. I love to play the game. For me, it’s making sure I’m good health wise is the most important part of it. As far as timeline and everything like that, we will definitely figure that out sometime in the future, but right now we just don’t have those answers.”
LeVert attended his first Pacers practice on Tuesday, observing things from the sideline.
More clarity on his diagnosis, and possible return to action this season, should come in the next week or so.
Pritchard said it was critical that the Pacers found this mass as early as they did, which has given doctors confidence that LeVert will make a full recovery. Tentatively, Pritchard has thrown around a 6-to-8-week timetable on a return for LeVert.
In listening to LeVert on Tuesday, handling adversity and attacking it with optimism is something that he’s encountered before.
LeVert’s father passed away when Caris was in high school. LeVert’s mother is battling multiple sclerosis.
And now LeVert himself went from feeling perfectly fine, and thriving in the NBA, to facing an uncertain immediate future on, and off, the court.
“It’s definitely been some trying times for sure for myself and my family,” LeVert says. “From being traded, to finding out the news about my body and what’s going on, I’m just very grateful for such support that I’ve received from Pacers players, the front office, the fans, everybody associated with this program and my family and my friends and everyone on social media. I’m just very grateful for all the support.
“It’s definitely been a crazy couple of days and a crazy recovery as well. But I think myself, and the Pacers organization is really optimistic about the future.”
Other Pacers Injury News
C-Myles Turner (avulsion fracture): Turner is listed at day-to-day after practicing fully on Tuesday with his injured right hand. The big man does not need surgery and Nate Bjorkgren is very surprised at the positive prognosis on Turner not missing much, if any, more time.
G/F-Jeremy Lamb (knee): The 2020-21 season debut for Lamb is nearing, according to Bjorkgren. Lamb was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice. Obviously, he’s returning from a serious injury, but his presence is definitely needed with the Caris LeVert situation.
F-T.J. Warren (foot): It remains to be seen if Warren will return this season. Bjorkgren said the Pacers are ‘hopeful’ that happens. The Pacers are currently constructing a rehab plan for Warren, one that will start with possibly lowering a hoop for him so he can do some form shooting or dribbling a basketball in a chair.