Brooklyn Nets guard LeVert underwent surgery on Thursday to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb, the team announced. While the Nets did not provide an official timeline for LeVert’s return, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Almost as soon as news broke Wednesday that LeVert could be shelved with the thumb injury to his shooting hand, the Nets bolstered their wing depth by adding Iman Shumpert with an open roster spot.
LeVert was a rising star in the Eastern Conference before suffering a gruesome ankle injury that kept him out for three months last season. He returned to lead the Nets in scoring during their first-round playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers and re-established himself as one of the building blocks that made Brooklyn such an attractive free-agent destination for All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in July.
LeVert suffered the injury during Sunday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns. After undergoing X-rays and an MRI, he missed Tuesday’s loss to the Utah Jazz with what the team originally called a sprained thumb.
The Nets have failed to meet lofty expectations in the early going this season despite an uptick in production from LeVert, and his extended absence could set Brooklyn’s chemistry experiment back even more. There have been a rash of hand injuries in the first month of the NBA season headlined by All-Stars Gordon Hayward and Stephen Curry, who both broke bones in their non-shooting hands. Their recovery times were respectively set at weeks and months. Nets teammate Spencer Dinwiddie tore ligaments in his right thumb last season, and surgery cost him 14 games over a five-week span.
Shumpert, who won a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, went unsigned this past summer after splitting time last season between the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets. He played well with the Kings, starting and serving as a veteran leader for a young team that was on the rise, but injuries and a lack of production led to diminished minutes after he was traded to the Houston Rockets for the stretch run.
The Nets started Garrett Temple in LeVert’s place on Tuesday, keeping Dinwiddie in his sixth-man role, and perhaps Irving’s past experience playing with Shumpert will expedite his contributions. The roster spot Shumpert is filling will no longer be available when veteran Wilson Chandler returns from PED suspension in mid-December. The earlier end of LeVert’s timeline would result in a similar return date.
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