It seems the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the Nets to team up with superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took place ages ago, right? Harden is playing, arguably, the best basketball of his career with his new cast of all stars in Brooklyn, Jarrett Allen seems to have solidified himself as a corner stone for years to come in Cleveland's front court behind the dynamic "Sexland" duo and Victor Oladipo is piling statistical gems on a struggling Houston team who probably can't wait for this season to end so they can continue to build around their young core and retool for the future.
However, for Caris LeVert, arguably the most important piece of this trade considering Harden would not have been sent to the Big Apple unless LeVert was included in any deal, has yet to register any minutes for his new squad, and under unfortunate, but lucky, circumstances too. In January LeVert underwent surgery to treat renal cell carcinoma of the left kidney, which was discovered during the required team physical anytime a player is traded to a new team. LeVert was the first person to acknowledge how fortunate he was to have that physical even going so far as to say, "this trade may have saved my life."
But now, LeVert, who seems to have just begun to scratch the surface of his potential behind an impressive showing in the NBA's bubble down in Orlando, leading the team in points and assists although getting eliminated in the first round with no KD or Kyrie to fall back on, looks to be on track to make his Pacers debut very soon. Which is incredible news considering there was a consensus around the NBA when the news broke that he could potentially have his career shortened due to this medical situation.
The Pacers organization never wavered, prioritizing his health and safety over any team orientated goals for this year. And that plan looks to be paying off as he is set to add a big boost to an Indiana team that currently sits at the 10th seed of the eastern conference, (19-16) led by two-time All-Star big man Domantis Sabonis
('21 skills challenge winner) and 2017 Rookie of the Year, Malcom Brogden.
Acquiring Caris LeVert in exchange for Victor Oladipo was an incredible feat, considering Oladipo's age and the amount of secured money he was demanding to continue his career in Indiana. And now Pacer's nation will reap the benefits of that shrewd move maybe even as soon as the team's upcoming road trip against the Lakers, Suns and Nuggets.
Before the trade, LeVert was putting up averages of 18.6 PPG, 6.0 APG and 4.3 RPG to go along with 1.7 SPG in 27 minutes both in a starting role and coming off the bench. Expect his role to be significant moving forward in the Pacer's attempt to push for a higher playoff seed to avoid playing one of the Eastern Conference's power houses, although personally I would not rule out possible upsets! This team is young, hungry and well coached. Don't be surprised when they hit their stride in the second half of this season.
The Pacers play the Lakers tonight at Staples Center, downtown LA, 7:30 (PST).
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