SALT LAKE CITY — Between his injury history and his importance to the team, Nets fans always hold their collective breath when Caris LeVert gets banged up. They’ll be fretting now.
LeVert has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game at the Jazz with a sprained right thumb.
“It’s a little painful, obviously,” LeVert said Monday.
LeVert suffered the initial injury in the first half of Sunday’s loss at the Suns.
“It first happened in the second quarter, and it got banged again in the third quarter. So it happened a couple times,” LeVert said. “It happened on a back cut, got banged.”
LeVert had tried to play through the pain, eventually logging 26 minutes of playing time.
“He always does. That’s who he is; he just plays through a lot of stuff,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s always been that way. It’s who he is.”
LeVert eventually had his finger examined after the game, including X-rays. He was to get an MRI exam either late Monday or Tuesday.
Unfortunately, LeVert is no stranger to injuries.
Foot woes at Michigan led to him falling in the draft. And he’s never played more than 71 games in an NBA campaign, missing 25 as a rookie and 42 last season with a nasty dislocated foot.
Now Atkinson has a tough call to make regarding how to replace LeVert in the lineup. He’s second on the team in scoring (16.8 points) and third in minutes (31.6). LeVert is averaging five rebounds and four assists and He is a solid two-way wing with no natural replacement.
The Nets could start sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie, but that robs the struggling bench not only of his 16.7 points per game, but their only floor leader. Or they could use Garrett Temple, who is averaging 20.8 minutes and has provided solid perimeter defense.
“We’re split,” Atkinson said. “I think the staff we’re split 50-50. We’ll have to make a decision [Tuesday] on what we’re going to do.
“We could argue both ways, keep [Dinwiddie] in his comfort zone, running that,” Atkiinson said. Or do we need his offense on that first unit? You’ve also got GT, too. Jeez, the guy’s been real good. He’s been solid. We could go either way.”
Rodions Kurucs has been suffering through a crisis of confidence, and the Nets had him putting in added work at practice.
“I thought it was a time to get him with that extra-work group and work through some things and get his confidence going,” Atkinson said. “We need him.” We need his size, we need his athleticism. The goal is to get him back as soon as he gets his rhythm back.”