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Caris LeVert sees bright, competitive future for Nets

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert drives the ball

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert drives the ball past Toronto Raptors guard Delon Wright during an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Although it isn’t a “cool” feeling seeing now-former Nets teammates become future foes, guard Caris LeVert believes that his team is going in the right direction. The Nets have been active this summer, both in the trade market and free agency. Perhaps the most notable name involved in the reshuffling, Jeremy Lin, was traded to the Hawks earlier this month.

While Lin’s Nets tenure was marred by injuries and only featured 37 games, he made an impact on LeVert, who was a rookie during Lin’s first (and really, only) season in Brooklyn.

Lin only played one game with the Nets last season, suffering a season-ending patella tendon injury in the opener.

“It always [stinks)] losing a brother like that,” LeVert said at a Nets event at Edmonds Playground in Brooklyn Monday afternoon.

“Jeremy was like a big brother to me, he still is, and Isaiah [Whitehead, who was traded to the Nuggets] as well. It’s not cool to lose guys like that. It’s a business and it happens. But, that doesn’t change our relationship at all.”

While Lin has left Brooklyn, a host of others are on their way. Guard Shabazz Napier, as well as forwards Ed Davis and Jared Dudley will call Barclays Center home next season.

“We got a couple of new faces, but I think the core guys are kind of the same,” LeVert said. “It’s still a young core, but we added some great pieces. [General manager) Sean [Marks] and [coach] Kenny (Atkinson) have done a great job of doing that. I think going into the end of the summer and training camp, we got a nice core of guys.”

The addition of Napier, along with the presence of point guards D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, means that the Nets backcourt will be rife with competition when camp opens in Sept.

“I think that’s the beauty in everything, though,” LeVert said of the potential scrum for minutes. “We have a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions and a lot of guys that can play together. I think last year you saw that with Spencer and D’Angelo playing together. So, I think that’s a good problem to have.”

LeVert played 71 games last season, averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 assists in 26.3 minutes per game. A concussion, as well as knee and foot problems, caused him to miss 11 games. However, LeVert said that injury concerns were not the reason he remained on the bench throughout Las Vegas Summer League earlier this month.

“Going into this year’s summer league, I didn’t have any injuries,” LeVert said. “It was just a matter of a decision that was made by the coaches.”

Despite insistence that he wasn’t that hurt last year, LeVert acknowledged that staying healthy, and 82 games, is always the goal.

“I think that’s everybody’s goal,” LeVert, who played 57 games as a rookie, said. “ . . . A lot of people said I had a lot of nursing injuries last year, but I think I only missed, like, (11) games. Five were for the concussion. I feel like I was pretty healthy last year.”

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