NBA

LeVert on return after cancer surgery: I'm just happy to be on the court again

By Sports Desk March 14, 2021

Caris LeVert was "just happy to be on court again" after finally getting the chance to make his debut for the Indiana Pacers.

LeVert joined the franchise via a trade in January, a move that dramatically changed his life before he even made an appearance for the Pacers.

A small, cancerous mass was discovered on his left kidney during a team physical and medical test prior to the deal going through, with the 26-year-old undergoing surgery to have it removed.

Having now fully recovered, he was able to return to action on Saturday, contributing 13 points and seven rebounds as Indiana defeated the Phoenix Suns 122-111, just their second win in eight outings.

While admitting to having "heavy legs", LeVert was just grateful to be back, particularly as he had no idea after his operation when exactly he would be cleared to return.

"The main thing for me was trying to contribute to a win," LeVert, who played 27 minutes, told the media.

"This was maybe my second time going five-on-five since everything happened - there was a little bit of heavy legs due to my conditioning, but that will come back. I'm just glad we got the win."

He added: "I think a month and a half ago, two months ago, I didn't even know if I was going to be out here, especially this soon with everything that happened.

"There is definitely a level of gratefulness - I'm just happy to be on the court again."

Asked if his presence made a difference for the Pacers, he replied: "I just tried to come out and give great energy, contribute in any way that I could."

LeVert was averaging 18.5 points per game for the Nets before being involved in a blockbuster four-team trade that was headlined by James Harden ending up with Brooklyn.

Indiana actually drafted the shooting guard 20th overall in 2016, though they traded his rights to the Nets before he had played a game.

Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren is glad to have LeVert on his roster now, praising his attitude as he waited to make a comeback.

"He energised our team, and his character level is so high," Bjorkgren said.

"He's such a good person. He's been a great team-mate throughout this entire time that he's been out, so our guys were very happy to have him back out there on the court."

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