Report: Pacers' Caris LeVert to Return This Year After Surgery for Kidney Cancer

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

Indiana Pacers' Caris LeVert watches from the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Indiana Pacers swingman Caris LeVert is reportedly "on track" to return to the court during the second half of the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

LeVert underwent surgery in January to treat renal cell carcinoma of his left kidney.

The team announced the cancer was found during an MRI shortly after the Pacers acquired him as part of a four-team trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

Despite the progress, Charania noted the Pacers do not have a definitive timetable for when he will play.

Though overall health takes precedent, an on-court return would be a massive development for the Pacers.

LeVert joined the team in a trade that sent Victor Oladipo to the Houston Rockets, while T.J. Warren played only four games before suffering a foot injury. That left the Pacers with few dependable perimeter scorers outside of Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner have at least helped the Pacers stay competitive this season. They're sitting just outside the playoffs with a 16-18 record entering Thursday.

LeVert could provide a significant boost for Indiana after averaging 18.5 points and 6.0 assists per game through 12 appearances with the Nets this season.

The 26-year-old averaged 18.7 points per game in 2019-20 as one of the top offensive options for a squad that reached the playoffs despite injuries to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He has showed the ability to take over games, having scored 43 points against the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this season and 51 points in a win over the Boston Celtics last year.

If he can play at the same level when he returns, LeVert could ensure Indiana will reach the playoffs for the sixth straight season.