According to a report, the Brooklyn Nets could get a big boost to their injury-riddled lineup before the All-Star break as Caris LeVert is near a return.
The Brooklyn Nets may be adding a premier scoring threat to their lineup, without having to give up a thing.
With the trade deadline coming up Thursday, the Nets have been contending with a sputtering offense and a recent stretch in which they’ve lost three of their last five games since losing Spencer Dinwiddie to surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.
But according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Brooklyn might be getting a big-time scorer into the mix soon.
Per Wojnarowski, citing league sources, Caris LeVert — out nearly three months since dislocating his right foot in a Nov. 12 road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves — could be back before the All-Star break begins next week.
A return by LeVert could be huge for the Nets on both ends, as he was not only leading the team in scoring at the time he was injured, but was also one of their top wing defenders.
The 24-year-old LeVert has missed the last 40 games since the gruesome injury that ended up being less severe than initially thought.
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There were no broken bones or torn ligaments after the injury, which occurred when he attempted to defend a fast break layup by Minnesota’s Josh Okogie just before halftime of the Nov. 12 game.
The third-year guard became a full-time starter after a big offseason leap that had coaches and teammates raving and through the first 14 games this season, LeVert was averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 29.7 minutes per game, shooting 47.5 percent overall and 31.1 percent from 3-point range.
He had late game-winning layups to beat the New York Knicks in the home opener on Oct. 19 and again in a road win over the Denver Nuggets, who visit Brooklyn on Wednesday, in a Nov. 9 game.
LeVert had topped the 20-point mark in seven of his 14 appearances, including a career-high 29 points in a Nov. 2 loss to the Houston Rockets.
He scored 28 in the Oct. 19 win over the Knicks, 27 in an opening night loss to the Detroit Pistons and 26 in a Nov. 6 victory on the road over the Phoenix Suns.
Without LeVert, Dinwiddie and the player who replaced LeVert in the starting lineup, Allen Crabbe, the last five games, the Nets have an offensive rating of just 102.1, ranking 26th in the NBA in that span, and had their third-lowest scoring game of the season Saturday night in a loss to the Orlando Magic.
Given coach Kenny Atkinson’s history with players returning from long-term injuries, LeVert most likely would be worked back into the rotation off the bench initially.
However, given how poorly the offense has operated of late, there might be some incentive to drop LeVert right back into his role at the starting 2 spot. Joe Harris has started at the 2 since LeVert’s injury after beginning the season starting at the 3 position.
That lineup emerged in the final two games of the preseason, after Crabbe went down with a sprained left ankle in the second exhibition encounter at Detroit. Prior to that, LeVert began the preseason starting at small forward, with Harris coming off the bench.
After Crabbe went down with a lingering injury to his right knee on Dec. 12, rookie Rodions Kurucs has started the last 25 games at the 3.
The Nets have battled injuries severe and nagging all season long and have yet to have their entire roster available for even a single game.
Rookie Dzanan Musa missed seven weeks with a partially dislocated left shoulder, Treveon Graham was out for 37 games with a hamstring injury, Crabbe has been out for 26 games due to ankle and knee problems and Shabazz Napier has missed four games thus far due to hamstring issues.
Beyond that, DeMarre Carroll missed the first 11 games after ankle surgery and sat out an additional game with a sore knee, Jared Dudley has been out the last 11 games with a hamstring injury, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been out 11 games with injuries to both adductors as well as a sprained ankle and Dinwiddie has been out the last five games due to his thumb.
Harris, questionable for Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, has missed three games with tightness in his right adductor and one with a sprained ankle and Jarrett Allen sat out two games in November with an illness.
No Net has played in every game this season, with Ed Davis and D’Angelo Russell both held out of Brooklyn’s first meeting with the Bucks at Milwaukee on Dec. 29 for rest after a very short turnaround on a road back-to-back.
So a LeVert return before the All-Star break could be a huge boost for a surprising team that is in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. After losing 10 of their first 12 games in the wake of LeVert’s injury, the Nets are 22-18 in the 40 games he has been out thus far.