NBA Rumor: Caris LeVert Injury

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After missing seven weeks following right thumb surgery, Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert is expected to return to the lineup against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, league sources tell ESPN. LeVert, ramping up his workouts lately, will return to a team that has lost four straight — including 123-111 to Dallas on Thursday — to drop to 16-17 and in seventh place in the East. Brooklyn has been without two of its best players –LeVert and Kyrie Irving — for an extended period.

The Nets were scheduled to fly to Dallas right after Monday’s game in Minnesota. They won’t practice Tuesday, but they have a full practice slated for Wednesday. That workout could be the last step in getting LeVert back out on the court. “We’ll see. That’s a big one,” Atkinson said. “That’ll be more, a bigger five-on-five group. So we’re just getting real close. We want to make sure we check all the boxes and [there are] a lot of boxes to be checked. Personally I don’t want to rush into anything. And I know we need him back but I want this to be a health long-term thing for the rest of the year.”

After doing contact with only coaches on Monday, LeVert said he’s finally done with teammates both on Tuesday and again Thursday morning before Brooklyn hosted the rival Knicks at Barclays Center. That would imply that his long-awaited return is right around the corner. “It feels good to get out there and practice a bit with the guys. They’ve been playing extremely well, so I can’t wait to get out there with them,” said LeVert. “Just getting my legs up under me (is the next step). I was out a month, a month-and-a-half or so – I don’t really know how long it was – but just getting my rhythm, getting my legs back.”

Injured Nets guard Caris LeVert had another encouraging workout before Friday’s game in Orlando. But with the NBA All-Star break exactly a month away, coach Kenny Atkinson was noncommittal on whether LeVert might return before then. “I’m not going to speculate,” Atkinson said. “I don’t want to give you something and be wrong. That’s the last thing I want to do. No specific update. “[He’s] progressing. I know he had another great workout [Friday]. That’s as far as my medical background goes, but progressing nicely.”

Coach Kenny Atkinson blamed a poor defensive effort but admitted the Nets have a huge void to fill without LeVert, who was a dominant ballhandler and top defender. “It’s a big void,” Atkinson said. “It’s both ends. He and D’Angelo [Russell] were sharing it so well and they had good chemistry. We’re going to have to look at what fits best with each lineup. We started Allen [Crabbe] tonight, but going forward, we have to look. Do we want more ballhandlers in the lineup? Do we want more shooters? The returns tonight weren’t great, so we’re going to have to figure out the lineup.”

At​ halftime,​ the​ Nets had tears in their eyes​ fearing the​ worst​ for their​ rising​ star,​​ Caris LeVert, after he was carried out on a stretcher to a local Minnesota hospital. Would he be out for the season? Was his career in jeopardy? “Obviously, Kenny was pretty broken down because, whether he wanted to admit it or not, Caris is probably his favorite player,” Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie told The Athletic after serving meals to teenagers at the Julia Richman Educational Complex on Tuesday.

“That was really difficult to see. Obviously, we’re close-knit, we’re a family,” an emotional Joe Harris said, pausing as he tried to compose himself, searching for words that wouldn’t come. “Just seeing that in person like that, it breaks your heart. It really does. “We were all really torn up about it. Caris has been the heart of our team with the amount of work he’s put in. … His attitude never wavered from the moment he’s gotten in here. He’s been just as good of a person as he is as a ballplayer, an even better person, as a matter of fact. That’s why it really hurts to see that.”

Harris’ eyes were red from crying, and he wasn’t the only one. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had been openly crying while awaiting a free throw, and when the Nets had gathered at halftime — LeVert’s gruesome injury still fresh, having occurred just 3.7 seconds before the break — the locker room was eerily quiet.
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