DENVER — Caris LeVert’s thumb injury is serious enough that the Nets have sent him for further evaluation, and added more wing depth just in case.
Brooklyn added free agent guard Iman Shumpert as the 16th player on the roster, a spot opened by Wilson Chandler’s PED suspension. The move was first reported by ESPN and confirmed by The Post.
Still, Shumpert can’t and won’t be expected to replace LeVert’s production. And the latest development is clear cause for concern with LeVert sitting out Tuesday’s loss with a sprained right thumb and being dispatched back to New York Wednesday for further evaluation.
The Nets reportedly are afraid LeVert has ligament damage, according to The Athletic. Teammate Spencer Dinwiddie missed over a month – 14 straight games – last season with ligament damage in his right thumb. Brooklyn, struggling at 4-6 going into Thursday’s game at Denver, can ill afford for LeVert to miss similar time.
LeVert is second on the Nets in scoring (16.8 points) and third in minutes (31.6). He’s also averaging five rebounds, four assists and is a solid two-way wing with no natural replacement.
For the moment, with Garrett Temple replacing LeVert in the lineup Tuesday and Shumpert being added, coach Kenny Atkinson appears to be leaning toward keeping Dinwiddie in the sixth man role.
“We’ll see what happens. I don’t know how bad Caris’ injury is,” Dinwiddie told The Post. “Either way you can always do that and stagger the minutes…There’s many different ways to go about it.
“What makes Kenny one of the best in the business is he’s going to figure it out and make sure our ship keeps sailing and riding right.”
The Nets could be in for some choppy waters with yet another setback for the injury-plagued LeVert. His lengthy history of health woes is well-known to Nets fans, and will likely have them fearing the worst on this latest problem.
LeVert’s foot woes at Michigan required surgery by Nets orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley at Hospital for Special Surgery, and led to him falling in the draft. And he’s never played more than 71 games in an NBA campaign, missing 25 as a rookie and 42 last season with a nasty dislocated foot. Now comes the thumb.
Shumpert averaged 7.5 points in 62 games last season split between the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets. The former Knick guard averaged 7.5 points in 23.9 minutes.
Brooklyn has the extra roster spot until Chandler’s suspension ends in mid-December.
Temple finished with 10 points in 29:43 on Tuesday, and even got crunch time minutes over Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie had 21 points and four assists in 23:44, but was largely relegated to the bench late.
“We’re a new team. Obviously Caris is hurt, so we’ve got guys stepping in like Garrett Temple, who is great on both sides of the basketball,” said center DeAndre Jordan. “Now we’re experimenting with lineups.”