Jan 4, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) passes the ball during pregame against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Not long ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers made Collin Sexton a top-ten pick in the NBA Draft. Now, the high-scoring guard seems to be out of favor with the organization.
In a new episode of ESPN’s “The Lowe Post” podcast, Chris Fedor of cleveland.com reported that some within the organization actually prefer veteran Caris LeVert to Sexton due to LeVert’s defensive versatility.
“There are multiple people inside the organization that, if they have their choice between Caris LeVert and Collin Sexton, they would take Caris over Collin because of the size, because of the length, because of the versatility that he can bring on the defensive end of the floor,” Fedor said, via HoopsHype. “And they liked what they saw with Caris and Darius (Garland) together. Obviously, the numbers back that up.”
Darius Garland firmly emerged as Cleveland’s franchise player last season, while Sexton missed nearly all of the campaign after tearing his meniscus in November. The Cavaliers traded for LeVert prior to the trade deadline, and clearly liked what they saw playing him next to Garland.
The Cavaliers have turned into a surprising contender in 2021-22, and the addition of LeVert signifies that they are serious about trying to make a run in the playoffs. The team’s success has largely been powered by breakout seasons from point guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen, but they have lacked a high-end wing scorer. LeVert will provide that, bringing an average of 18.7 points per game with Indiana this season.
For the Pacers, this could be the first of several moves. There have been lingering rumors that the team could be prepared to move several core players, and LeVert was one of them. The decision to move the veteran guard could help accelerate other moves ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
The Indiana Pacers could soon be taking a stick of dynamite to their roster.
Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that the Pacers are moving towards a “substantial” rebuild and are expected to open up trade conversations around their top veterans. The Pacers are said to be receptive to trading guard Caris LeVert and either forward Domantas Sabonis or center Myles Turner. The report adds that 87-year-old owner Herb Simon, who has always demanded that the Pacers put out the best possible product on the floor, is now onboard with the idea of a rebuild.
All three trade candidates are dynamic players with the ability to put a contending team over the top. LeVert is a do-it-all wing with 20-point-per-game upside. Sabonis is a sort of Nikola Jokic Lite who has made back-to-back All-Star teams. Turner is a game-changing center who is one of the NBA’s perennial leaders in blocked shots and can also shoot close to 40 percent from three.
While Indiana just hired veteran coach Rick Carlisle, they are quickly fading into irrelevance at 10-16 in a very good Eastern Conference. The team did not make the playoffs last season after five straight first-round exits before that. After then failing to land one big-name star this past offseason, all the tea leaves now appear to be pointing the Pacers in the direction of hitting the hard reset button.
The Philadelphia 76ers may finally have a palatable offer for Ben Simmons on the table courtesy of the Indiana Pacers.
Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reported on Tuesday that the Pacers have spoken with the Sixers about a potential Simmons trade and that swingman Caris LeVert was one of the players brought up in those communications.
The 27-year-old LeVert, who is signed through 2023, certainly has the talent to serve as the centerpiece in a Simmons deal. He put up 20.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game last season, which were all career-highs. LeVert was also the crown jewel of the Pacers’ return package in the multi-team blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn.
Indiana seems to be in dire need of a jolt after five straight first-round exits followed by a sub-.500 finsh last season. The signs that they might shake up the snow glove with a major trade are definitely there as well.
In a statement, LeVert thanked the Pacers for their “support and guidance” and added that he looked forward to being able to debut for the franchise.
LeVert was part of the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. It may be that this issue would not have been promptly discovered if LeVert had not undergone the medical exam that goes along with the trade. Shams Charania of The Athletic had reported earlier Saturday that the Pacers required an extra second-round pick and cash due to the issue turning up in LeVert’s physical.
The Houston Rockets got a massive haul in their trade of James Harden, and they are acquiring a star from Indiana as well.
The Rockets received guard Caris LeVert as part of the Harden deal with the Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets then moved LeVert to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for All-Star guard Victor Oladipo and a second-round pick.
The Nets received the prized piece in the trade — Harden, while Indiana is moving Oladipo.
The 28-year-old guard has averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game this season. He made two All-Star teams during his time with Indiana, but he is set to be a free agent after the season.
LeVert is averaging 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season, so his absence will be tough for the Nets to overcome. Brooklyn considers him an important part of their core and signed him to an extension during the offseason that reflects that.
The Brooklyn Nets are keeping another member of their core together for the next few years.
Caris LeVert has agreed to a three-year, $52.5 million contract extension with the Nets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday night. LeVert is set to earn $2.6 million in the upcoming season, so the contract extension does not start until the following year. That means LeVert would be under contract with the Nets through the 2022-2023 season.
The extension means the Nets now have Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and LeVert all under contract for at least the next three seasons.
LeVert, 25, averaged 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season. The former No. 20 overall pick averaged 21 points per game during the team’s playoff series against the Sixers. He was limited to 40 regular season games last year due to an ankle injury that turned out to be not as bad as initially expected.
The playoff races are well underway in the NBA, and things are very competitive in both conferences. It looks likely that only a handful of games will separate fifth from eighth in certain cases, and the margins between making and missing the playoffs will be small.
Most contenders have key figures who will have a big say in where their teams land. These aren’t always the obvious stars, but a key name who’s returning from injury or picking up the slack at the right time. Here are 10 key players who will have a big say in the playoff races.
10. Buddy Hield, G, Kings
Hield has had a breakout year this season, but he hasn’t always been in the good graces of coach Dave Joerger, much to the frustration of some other players. The Kings are very much in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, and they’ll need Hield to play fearlessly — and have the trust of his coach — down the stretch. If he can play to his capabilities — like when he made 53.4 percent of his threes in January — the Kings will have a huge weapon as they chase a playoff spot.
This is great news for both LeVert and the Nets, especially when you consider just how bad his injury looked at the time. In his 14 games, LeVert had been averaging a career-best 18.4 points per game, and his return will be a boost to a Nets team that finds itself firmly in the playoff hunt.