With training camps set to open across the league on Tuesday, it appears as though the Pacers continue to be off to a tough start to the season and the season hasn’t even started yet. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, Caris LeVert has a stress fracture in his back, providing an early blow to the slippery guard’s stated goal to stay healthy this season.
“I think the best ability is availability,” LeVert told reporters at yesterday’s media session. “I haven’t been that the past couple of years. So going into the offseason, that was the big thing (for me).”
Per Woj, there is some optimism that the injury may only be a “minor setback,” but it is still a setback nonetheless. After all, even if LeVert is able to return before the start of the regular season, there’s still the possibility of stunting with regard to the team’s ability to jell under yet another new head coach, as well as to some of the progress he made in rebuilding his stamina after undergoing cancer treatment surgery last season and sitting out the play-in tournament games due to health and safety protocols.
“Over the offseason, I just really tried to work on my conditioning,” said LeVert at Media Day. “I think that’s kind of the basis for everything for me. I always try to work on every part of my game in the offseason, but I think conditioning was huge for me and just getting my overall strength and weight back.”
When asked about the health of his team — with the exception of T.J. Warren’s week-to-week absence and Edmond Sumner, who recently underwent surgery to repair a tear to his Achilles — Rick Carlise responded in the affirmative, saying “Gosh, nothing major, no,” but also seemed somewhat hesitant in his answer.
According to injury buff Jeff Stotts at In Street Clothes, the risk of stress fractures, like those suffered by Warren and now LeVert, may have been greater due to the condensed nature of last season.
I was concerned about an increase in stress fractures entering last season, given the shortened offseason and quick turnaround. Now the first two high profile injuries to start the year both appear stress-related. https://t.co/T5rr53MtwV— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) September 28, 2021
That said, seeing as how the Pacers finished last season in the absence of three starters and already project to open training camp with at least two on the shelf, it seems fair to question whether this roster will ever be reasonably healthy enough to warrant the continued hope and trust in eventual continuity.
For now, with Sumner also sidelined, the team will most likely have to lean more heavily on Jeremy Lamb, who is back to being 100 percent after dealing with nagging injuries late last season in his return from a torn ACL, as well as rookie Chris Duarte.