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Caris LeVert wants to see former teammate Kyrie Irving back on the court

Pacers guard Caris LeVert shoots over Spurs guard

Pacers guard Caris LeVert shoots over Spurs guard Devin Vassell during the second half of an NBA game in Indianapolis on Monday. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

INDIANAPOLIS — Caris LeVert was traded from the Brooklyn Nets early last season but remains close with his former teammates, notably Kyrie Irving. LeVert said he spoke with him last week and just as Irving was wishing him well in his return to the court, LeVert would like to see Irving back in uniform.

"I think it’s unfortunate what’s happened," LeVert said. "Everyone wants to see Kyrie play basketball, I think Kyrie wants to play basketball. I know Kyrie wants to play basketball . . . . Hopefully, everyone can come to a conclusion and come back to the court soon."

Irving has been sidelined for refusing to be vaccinated for COVID, defying the New York City vaccination mandate that prevents him from playing or practicing with the Nets. The team then refused to allow him to play on the road. The decision has become a flashpoint for the rule, although newly elected Mayor Eric Adams has hinted that he could revisit the rule when he takes office in January.

"You’re going to feel how you want to feel," LeVert said. "Like I said, everyone wants to see Kyrie play basketball. I think he has a beautiful game. Everyone loves watching him play and obviously he loves playing. So it kind of it is what it is with the rules. You can’t really change that. But hopefully everyone can come to an agreement on something and get him back on the court soon.

"It’s definitely weird," he added of the law that allows unvaccinated visiting NBA players to participate. "But that’s something we’re trying to work through right now as players. It was kind of sudden for us as well. Kind of being introduced before the season. So it’s just an unfortunate situation and like I said hopefully we can come to a conclusion."

LeVert was on the floor at the Pacers' practice facility Wednesday morning, happy to go through the early-morning work to prepare for a game against the Knicks later that night.

The morning workouts that for some are a sleepy-eyed bit of extra prep work has a different feel for LeVert, who is thankful to be back on the floor with his teammates and healthy. LeVert, who was traded early last season as part of the package to land James Harden, has gone through a roller-coaster ride since that moment.

A rising young star, he dealt not only with the trade but the results of his physical when he arrived in Indiana that a mass was found, diagnosed as renal cell carcinoma of his left kidney. He underwent surgery and after rehabilitating was found to have a stress fracture in his lower back, costing him training camp, the entire preseason schedule and the first six games of the season.

"Yeah for sure. I don’t take anything for granted," LeVert said. "I think when you go through something like that it just makes you appreciate everything more. I’m just happy to be out here and teammates and finally playing in games. I’m super excited about that.

"I feel good, man. I sat out a couple months to start the season. Then [I’ve been] back a couple games. So obviously there’s general soreness and things like that. But overall I feel good and I’m ready to start this journey."

New York Sports