Pacers' Caris LeVert out indefinitely after MRI finds small mass on kidney

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Indiana Pacers wing Caris LeVert, a pivotal component of the blockbuster James Harden trade, is out indefinitely after an MRI revealed a small mass on his left kidney during his pre-trade physical, his new team announced Saturday.

LeVert is still awaiting further medical tests, per the Pacers.

Part of the haul that the Brooklyn Nets sent in return for Harden, the 26-year-old LeVert was routed from Houston to Indiana in exchange for Pacers star Victor Oladipo. He hadn’t yet made his debut with Indiana, and could now have to wait a while to do so.

LeVert’s reaction, via the Pacers:

“On behalf of my family and myself, we want to thank the Indiana Pacers for their support and guidance. 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 be clear, the Harden trade has still gone through; the mass was discovered before the trade and the Pacers still went ahead with it. However, it’s possible that the discovery is what caused a second-round pick originally sent to Brooklyn in the trade to be sent to Indiana instead. The Nets also sent $2.6 million to the Pacers in the revised trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Caris LeVert was a rising star in Brooklyn

Caris LeVert's inclusion in the James Harden trade led to a fateful physical. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Caris LeVert's inclusion in the James Harden trade led to a fateful physical. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Before his inclusion in the Harden trade, LeVert had been one of the jewels of the young core that first attracted Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn.

The 20th overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft, LeVert has evolved into a dynamic playmaker over the course of five NBA seasons. Between this season and last season, LeVert has averaged 18.7 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from deep.

It’s hard to see the Nets pulling off the Harden trade without LeVert, and he was an attractive enough talent that the Pacers jumped at the chance to get involved in the trade.

Levert signed a three-year, $52.5 million contract extension in Aug. 2019, and is set to hit free agency in 2023.

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