The Caris LeVert-for-Victor Oladipo portion of the blockbuster trade sending James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets is now official — but there’s a but. In addition to LeVert and Houston’s 2023 second-round pick, the Pacers will now also be receiving cash from Brooklyn, as well as Cleveland’s 2024 second-round pick, due to an issue that was discovered in LeVert’s physical, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“Caris is a high-quality person who will fit in with what we as an organization are doing, on and off the floor,” Kevin Pritchard said in a statement issued via the team. “He’s a versatile young talent who we think will be a great fit with the direction our team is taking. He can play multiple positions and affect the game at both ends of the floor.”
Prior to the deal, LeVert had averaged 26.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and seven assists on 50 percent shooting over his last five games, including four starts and a 43-point showing against the Memphis Grizzlies. That said, although whatever was found during his physical doesn’t seem to have impacted his production of late, the 26-year-old wing has a long history of setbacks going back to college, when he underwent multiple foot surgeries on his left foot before his NBA career began. Since then, he was largely healthy for the 2017-18 season after missing a chunk of time as a rookie to recover, but he sustained a gruesome subtalar dislocation of his right foot in November of 2018 which limited him to only 40 regular-season games. Last season, he missed several weeks to recover from surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb.
Altogether, the Michigan product has failed to reach 60 games played in three of his first four seasons. Details weren’t offered about what specifically was found in the physical, but it’s somewhat curious that something that held up a trade for multiple days was able to be made right with a second-round pick and cash. On the one hand, that seems oddly reassuring, especially since the pick won’t even convey for three years, but it also begs pointing out that Cleveland received comparable compensation when a physical held up the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston in-exchange for Isaiah Thomas, who never looked the same in a Cavs uniform while recovering from a hip injury after becoming an All-Star with the Celtics. Of course, given that James Harden already spoke to the media yesterday in Brooklyn, it doesn’t appear that this trade was ever in danger of being voided. Plus, unlike LeVert, Thomas was swapped for Irving during the offseason, when he hadn’t played since being shutdown during the playoffs.
Still, until more information is known, a medical red-flag clearly isn’t the most ideal reason to pick up an extra second-round pick.
Shortly after announcing the trade as official, the Pacers issued a status update on LeVert, indicating that he will be out indefinitely after an MRI revealed a small mass on his left kidney. LeVert is expected to undergo further tests before a course of action is charted.
“On behalf of my family and myself, we want to thank the Indiana Pacers for their support and guidance,” LeVert said in a statement issued via the team. “We are grateful for their extreme thoroughness during the physical process and I am looking forward to joining the team and being part of this great organization as soon as possible.”
To that point, with LeVert’s long-term health obviously as the main concern, thank goodness the trade and subsequent physical examination occurred at this time to put him in front of doctors who would recognize and identify whatever his diagnosis is early.
“We acquired Caris because of who he is as a young man first and foremost,” said Indiana’s President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “His basketball skill and on court play speaks for itself and we know he has a great career ahead of him. We will support Caris through this time and know that he will join us on the court as soon as he is able.”
Prayers up to him for a full recovery.