The Brooklyn Nets got just about the best news imaginable Tuesday regarding the injury to Caris LeVert — no fractures and a likely return this season.
According to the report from team orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley, LeVert has what is termed a “subtalar dislocation” of his right foot and LeVert will not need surgery to repair the damage.
O’Malley indicated the injury looked to be much worse than it actually is.
"“Fortunately, tests performed [Tuesday] morning revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage. 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 is expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season.”"
According to the National Institute of Health website, this sort of dislocation without any associated fractures is extremely rare. Treatment involves immobilization for four to six weeks followed by range of motion exercises to strengthen the area around the injury.
The case study cited indicated the patent was bearing full weight roughly 10 weeks after the injury, but it should be noted that the patient was not a professional basketball player.
The Nets did not set a timetable for LeVert’s return, other than to say he should be back this season.
Most observers — guilty as well, for the record — were assuming after seeing the injury that LeVert was done for the season at a minimum.
The Nets’ leading scorer this season, LeVert was breaking out as a star after a strong offseason program that had teammates and coaches raving during training about his growth as a player.
He carried that momentum into the season. Through 14 games, LeVert was averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 29.7 minutes per game on .475/.311/.721 shooting.
He is the only player in the NBA season with more than one game-winning basket scored in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime. LeVert had a game-winner to beat the New York Knicks in Brooklyn’s home opener on Oct. 19 and beat the Denver Nuggets with a late bucket on Friday.
The optics O’Malley referred to were disturbing. LeVert went down while challenging a shot by Josh Okogie of the Timberwolves late in the first half. They collided in the air — with LeVert called for a personal foul on the play — and LeVert landed at an odd angle on his right leg.
The leg bent and LeVert’s foot was visibly displaced. Teammates were mortified as they looked on, with many covering their faces. The stunned team went to the locker room for halftime, where Joe Harris said after the game the discussion — what there was — had nothing to do with the game.
Harris told the media, via the New York Post:
"“It was really hard for all of us coming in the locker room. We’re not overly concerned with the outcome of the game, our thoughts are with Caris. I don’t even think we talked when we came in at halftime. There was nothing to be said. You could just feel the emotions of everybody.“Guys were crying.”"
With this piece of news, the Nets can move on to answering the basketball questions at hand — who replaces LeVert in the starting lineup? How will the system have to be adjusted to accommodate for the loss of their leading scorer and go-to threat in close, late situations?
And who will step up to take those shots until LeVert makes his way back?
With the worst outcome averted for Caris LeVert, that fact alone should give the Brooklyn Nets a boost.