Caris LeVert

Caris LeVert Dislocates Foot, Expected To Return This Season

Nets swingman Caris LeVert, who underwent tests on Tuesday after leaving Monday’s game with a gruesome leg injury, has been diagnosed with a subtalar dislocation of the right foot, the team announced today in a press release. It’s good news for LeVert, who didn’t break any bones and hasn’t been ruled out for the entire 2018/19 season.

“Fortunately, tests performed this morning revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage,” Nets orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required. Caris will begin a period of rehabilitation with the Nets’ performance staff, following which he is expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season.”

LeVert, who has dealt with foot injuries in the past, appeared to be in the midst of a breakout season until Monday’s injury. In 14 games, he had averaged 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.7 APG, putting him in position to receive early consideration for this season’s Most Improved Player award.

LeVert almost certainly won’t be in the running for that honor anymore, since his latest foot injury will sideline him for a good chunk of the season. However, the fact that the Nets expect him to return to the court by the spring is great news, considering the injury initially looked like a sure bet to end his season. The 24-year-old remains a long-term building block for the franchise, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe details in an excellent piece today.

LeVert’s injury could open up the door for players like D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to pick up some extra minutes, depending on how the Nets structure their lineups in his absence.

Caris LeVert Stretchred Off Court With Apparent Right Leg Injury

Nets forward Caris LeVert was stretchered off the court at Target Center with an apparent right leg injury and taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota, YES Network’s Michael Grady reports.

“Caris LeVert sustained a right leg injury during the second quarter of tonight’s game at Minnesota,” the Nets said in an update. “LeVert is being taken to a local Minneapolis hospital where he will undergo a full evaluation. Further updates will be issued as available.”

Just seconds before halftime, LeVert went for a block and landed awkwardly on his right ankle. Several Nets players were visibly crying while Timberwolves players huddled together in prayer for the Brooklyn swingman. LeVert posted 10 points, five rebounds and four assists before the injury.

The injury looked similar to the gruesome left leg injury Celtics’ forward Gordon Hayward suffered last October. Just minutes into Boston’s season opener, Hayward landed awkwardly on his left leg and suffered a dislocated and fractured left tibia. Hayward underwent surgery and missed the entire 2017/18 NBA season.

LeVert, 24, has developed into a potent two-way threat for Brooklyn this season. In 14 games this season, the Michigan product has averaged 18.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 3.7 APG for the Nets while shooting 47.3% from the floor. The first-round pick (20th overall) from the 2016 NBA draft has developed into a key piece of the Nets’ future.

LeVert does have a history of foot injuries. He suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during his stint at the University of Michigan in May 2014. LeVert re-injured the same foot in January 2015 and missed the remainder of that collegiate season. He had been expected to be a top pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

The 6’7″, 200-pound forward once again suffered a left leg injury in his final season at Michigan, missing parts of three months and eventually undergoing his third surgical procedure in 22 months. The string of left leg injuries dropped LeVert’s draft stock, but he did end up being selected in the first round by the Pacers and being sent to the Nets in a trade for Thaddeus Young.

Nets Rumors: Butler, LeVert, Allen, Russell, RHJ

Although the Nets internally view Jimmy Butler as a top-10 or top-15 player in the NBA, the team resolved not to give up any of its prime assets for him once he became available, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. When Brooklyn briefly discussed the possibility of acquiring Butler in a trade, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and the team’s first-round pick were off-limits.

As Scotto details, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have talked throughout their tenures about not “skipping steps” in the Nets’ rebuilding process. Sacrificing one or two of the club’s top young players or draft picks would have meant going for a quick fix, with no assurances that Butler would have stuck around beyond 2019.

Here’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets did kick the tires on Butler before the Timberwolves sent him to Philadelphia, having discussed a deal involving D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and salary filler, league sources tell Scotto. However, those talks didn’t gain any traction.
  • Scotto identifies Nikola Mirotic and Tobias Harris as two veteran forwards who may receive interest from the Nets during the summer of 2019. Brooklyn has long coveted a reliable stretch four, and Mirotic and Harris, who will both be unrestricted free agents next year, are capable of playing that role.
  • As he approaches restricted free agency, D’Angelo Russell is showing a little more consistency, particularly on the defensive end, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “His maturity, his consistency, that’s what we’re starting to see,” Kenny Atkinson said. “That’s the challenge for him. It’s not on-again, off-again. We need more on from him, and I think he’s starting to get over that hurdle. He looked really good physically, too, against Denver (on Friday). He really got after it.”

Atlantic Notes: LeVert, Valanciunas, Nets Prospects, Redick

Caris LeVert‘s impressive early-season performances could make the Nets a more attractive free agent destination, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer points out. The Nets guard, who is averaging 24.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 4.0 APG, is a versatile talent who can mesh with anyone because of his passing, cutting and spot-up shooting, O’Connor continues. Brooklyn’s front office looks smart for taking LeVert off the table in trade discussions with the Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler, O’Connor adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There hasn’t been any grumbling from Raptors players who have seen their minutes reduced, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports. Jonas Valanciunas, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam, among others, will see their playing time fluctuate depending on the opponent. “We are sharing the minutes. We don’t know what matchups are going to come to us,” Valanciunas told Wolstat. “We have versatility. Just have different things for different matchups. We have different lineups, different people going at some different players.”
  • Nets draft-and-stash prospects Aleksandar Vezenkov and Isaia Cordinier are off to good start overseas, according to a NetsDaily.com post. Vezenkov, a 6’9” forward has played three Euroleague games for Olympiacos and is averaging 9.7 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 17.0 MPG. Cordinier, a 6’5” shooting guard who plays in the French League, returned to action on Friday after missing last season with knee tendinitis. It’s uncertain whether they’ll pursue NBA careers next season. Another draft-and-stash player, Juan Pablo Vaulet, was sent home by his Argentine team for undisclosed reasons.
  • Sixers guard J.J. Redick believes the Magic made a smart move by trading him to the Bucks five years ago, Josh Robbins of The Athletic reports. Redick was heading into unrestricted free agency at the time but would have liked to finish out that season with Orlando. He would have considered a long-term deal with the Magic that summer. Orlando acquired forward Tobias Harris and two other players in the deal. “The trade for Tobias was definitely in Orlando’s favor,” Redick told Robbins. “You get a guy who’s going to get you 18 [points] and 8 [rebounds] at 22, or whatever age Tobias was at the time. … Things obviously didn’t turn out great for them subsequently, but I think they made the right call.”

New York Notes: LeVert, Porzingis, Dinwiddie, Fizdale

Caris LeVert wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the Nets’ rotation heading into training camp, notes Michael Scotto of The Athletic, but through two games he looks like the early favorite for Most Improved Player. LeVert torched the Knicks for a career-high 28 points Friday night, including the game-winning shot. That followed a 27-point outburst against the Pistons in the season opener.

A month ago, LeVert was part of a large group in Brooklyn battling for playing time. He was competing with DeMarre Carroll, Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe at the wings and D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Shabazz Napier in the backcourt. LeVert’s transformation may be shocking to outsiders, but teammate Jarrett Allen said it has been building for a while.

“We saw it during the summer,” he said. “We knew it was coming, but coming out and playing like this not even we expected him scoring almost 30 points every night, but he’s coming out and showing all the work he’s done this summer is paying off.”
There’s more from New York City:
  • The rivalry between the Knicks and Nets may be more intense next summer than it is during the season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Both teams should be in the running for lottery picks and both will have plenty of cap room to make a splash on the free agent market. Berman suggests that Brooklyn, which may be in position to offer two max contracts, could really heat things up by pursuing Kristaps Porzingis, who will be a restricted free agent after the deadline for an extension passed without a deal. The Nets can offer him a chance to play alongside fellow Latvian Rodions Kurucs.
  • If the Knicks can’t get a star to take a max offer, they could spend some of their money on Dinwiddie, Berman adds in the same piece. He notes that New York tried to work out a deal for the Nets guard in February, but decided the price was too high and opted for Emmanuel Mudiay instead.
  • David Fizdale’s relaxed exchanges with the media are a sign that a transformation has taken place among Knicks management, contends Harvey Araton of The New York Times. Owner James Dolan has produced a smothering environment among previous coaches, but Fizdale feels free to be open and honest in his assessment of players.

Nets Exercise 2019/20 Options On LeVert, Allen

The Nets have exercised their 2019/20 team options on the rookie contracts of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, the team announced today in a press release. The moves were mere formalities that come well in advance of the October 31 deadline.

Picking up LeVert’s fourth-year option will lock him in for 2019/20 with a very modest cap charge of $2,625,718. That’s a bargain for the 24-year-old, who is coming off a promising sophomore season in which he averaged 12.1 PPG, 4.2 APG, and 3.7 RPG with a .435/.347/.711 shooting line. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2019 offseason.

As for Allen, his ’19/20 option, worth $2,376,840, is for his third NBA season — Brooklyn will have one more option decision to make on him next fall, for his fourth year (2020/21). The 20-year-old center averaged 8.2 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 72 games (31 starts) for the Nets as a rookie after being selected with the No. 22 pick in the 2017 draft.

Be sure to check out our tracker for a breakdown of all the decisions on 2019/20 rookie scale options that NBA teams must make by October 31.

Jimmy Butler Returns To Timberwolves’ Practice

Three weeks after his trade request went public, Jimmy Butler returned to the Timberwolves‘ facility and practiced with the team today, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

While Butler’s participation in practice doesn’t necessarily mean a trade won’t happen, it’s another indication that he won’t sit out once the regular season begins next week. Of course, that was never really a realistic option for Butler, since – as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets – the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement features language that makes a holdout impractical.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Butler was vocal during today’s practice, verbally challenging coaches, teammates, and the front office, including Tom Thibodeau, Scott Layden, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. Woj describes the 29-year-old as “vociferous and emotional at times,” adding in a second tweet that at one point, Butler screamed at Layden, “You (bleeping) need me. You can’t win without me.”

As we relayed earlier today, the Timberwolves reached back out to the Rockets on Tuesday, and the Heat remain interested in rekindling talks with Minnesota, so those trade discussions figure to continue. However, reports throughout the process have indicated that Thibodeau would prefer to see Butler start the season with the Wolves. That scenario appears increasingly plausible now that the All-NBA wing is practicing with his teammates again, though perhaps the obvious tension in practice will make Thibodeau reconsider his stance.

Here are a few more of the latest notes on Butler:

  • Besides their discussions with the Heat, the Timberwolves have had no “serious, active talks” with any other team about Butler, league sources tell Wojnarowski.
  • According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Nets have been “timid” in their approach toward pursuing Butler, and have made Caris LeVert unavailable. Deveney also confirms that the Clippers are unwilling to include Tobias Harris in any offers, having instead proposed deals headlined by Danilo Gallinari or some combination of other players, such as Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, and others.
  • Some league executives who spoke to Deveney expressed reservations about Butler’s potential locker room fit. “As good as Jimmy is, I think you have to be concerned about the impact he is going to have in the locker room, on your younger guys, on your coaching staff, all of that,” one general manager said. “He has gotten the benefit of the doubt, but if you look at his history, he’s had trouble getting along in Chicago and now in Minnesota. Everywhere he goes, it becomes about Jimmy, and if you’re going to bring him in, you have to account for that.”
  • Earlier today, we passed along details on the Timberwolves‘ discussions with the Rockets.

Nets’ Caris LeVert Poised For Breakout Season

Despite being linked to a potential trade for Jimmy Butler, Nets guard Caris LeVert is ready for a breakout year in Brooklyn during this, his third season, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

“I feel like it’s definitely my turn to take a big leap,” LeVert said. “It’s obviously good to hear from my teammates, because I feel like I put in a lot of work on and off the court, mentally, physically, and I feel like I’m ready to take that leap for sure.”

LeVert, who averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 assists last season, is expected to improve upon those and other numbers this season, as the Nets are convinced he has far more talent to tap – so much so that they have reportedly already turned down a mid-first-round pick for LeVert and possibly held him out of any potential talks for Butler, per Lewis.

“I focus on myself and getting better every day. I can’t control [trades], so I don’t really focus on them,” said the 24-year-old. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m very blessed to be in this situation. I love this team. I want to play here for a long time, but I know it’s a business.”

If there’s any one specific thing that will help LeVert take that next step, it’s likely his strength development. He worked all offseason closely alongside Nets’ director of sports science, Dan Meehan, mostly working on lower body strength and conditioning.

“Finishing, defense, every part of my game was lacking with my lower body strength,” LeVert said. “Balance was one of the big things that was lacking for me last year and the year before that. My lower-body strength has definitely helped with that. Finishing at the rim, guarding bigger players defensively, that will definitely help a lot.”

LeVert will likely begin the 2018/19 season coming off the bench in a backup role to D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe. But if expectations come to fruition, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him starting before season’s end.

Atlantic Rumors: Green, LeVert, Marks, Williams

Danny Green believes Kawhi Leonard will have a tough time leaving the city of Toronto once he settles in during his first season with the Raptors, Kurt Helin of NBC Sports relays. Green, who was included in the blockbuster deal that sent Leonard to Toronto, made the comment during an Inside the Green Room Podcast. “The city of Toronto is gonna be hard to turn down after being there. I’ve been going every summer for the past 10-plus years. It’s a great city and the fans are amazing. … I’m getting a great amount of feedback, a great amount of love and all types of different stuff from the fans. So it’s gonna be tough for him to turn down.” Leonard can opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • LeVert played a total of 30 games at the point last season when D’Angelo Russell was injured, Milholen notes, and posted averages of 13.2 PPG and 4.8 APG in 27.2 MPG. Russell will start for Brooklyn and the Nets also have free agent addition Shabazz Napier at that spot. LeVert can also be viewed as a long-term insurance policy since Russell could become a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension, Milholen adds.
  • The early returns on Sean Marks‘ first-round picks bode well for next June’s draft, Jason Max Rose of NetsDaily.com opines. The Nets GM found two valuable assets during the last two drafts in LeVert and starting center Jarrett Allen, even though those picks were in the bottom third of the first round, Rose notes. Thus, Marks and his staff have shown they can not only identify talent but develop players as well, Rose adds. The Nets could have two first-rounders in June, their own pick plus the Nuggets’ top-12 protected pick acquired this summer.
  • Dominating at the G League level would make for a successful rookie season for Celtics first-rounder Robert Williams, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. That’s where Williams will spend a good portion of the season, Blakely notes, and the big man must prove the left knee injury he’s dealing with won’t be a major issue. Williams also needs to show more maturity off the court, Blakely adds.

Atlantic Notes: Vonleh, LeVert, Tatum, Simmons

Badly in need of rebounding help, the Knicks may have found it at a bargain price with the signing of Noah Vonleh, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. While other parts of his game have been questioned, Vonleh is considered very good at getting boards. He collected a career best 5.8 in about 16 minutes per game with the Trail Blazers and Bulls last season.

Chicago acquired Vonleh from Portland at the trade deadline, but didn’t make him an offer in free agency. The Knicks were able to sign him to a partially guaranteed one-year deal that will pay $100K if he’s still on the roster September 25.

“Free agency was pretty tough this year,’’ Vonleh said. “I didn’t get anything. There were a lot of teams with interest. But I love the game of basketball. I’m happy to have another year in the league. I’m going to play this year out and see how things go and try to be in the league for many years to come.”

There’s more this morning from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets forward Caris LeVert believes a relaxed practice schedule in the NBA has helped him overcome the injuries he had in college, relays Ethan Sears of The New York Post. Foot issues forced him to miss a large part of his junior and senior seasons at Michigan and caused him to slide to 20th in the 2016 draft. “I think that a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, he only — he got hurt in the college season, where they only played 40 games. How is he gonna play 82 games in the NBA season?’” LeVert said. “They don’t really look at the fact that in college, you practice way harder than in the NBA. Cause in the NBA, you can’t necessarily practice that hard, ’cause there’s a game basically every other day.”
  • After a stellar rookie season, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has spent the summer working on his strength, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “That’s probably been the biggest focus,” Tatum said. “I’m still young so it’s hard to really just throw on a bunch of extra pounds. But I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger. … I just wanted to get my body right and keep getting stronger.”
  • Ben Simmons isn’t concerned about the Sixers missing out on LeBron James in free agency. Simmons talks about James’ decision to join the Lakers in a video tweeted by the Australian Daily Telegraph. “He did the right thing for him and his family,” Simmons said. “But it would’ve been great to learn from him, him being on the team and obviously competing for a championship. But we have pieces to get there.”