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USATSI

Injuries have been unkind to the Indiana Pacers. Going back to the Orlando bubble when the Pacers were the fourth seed in the East, the team was without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis in their four-game series loss to the Miami Heat. Last season, injuries to center Myles Turner, guard Malcolm Brogdon, forward TJ Warren and Sabonis significantly hindered the team's ability to repeat its regular season success from the prior year and failed to make the playoffs after losing to the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament. 

Fast forward to the 2021-22 season, and the Pacers have already lost Edmond Sumner for the season due to a torn Achilles, Warren is still out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot, and now forward Caris LeVert is reportedly sidelined for an undetermined amount of time due to a stress fracture in his back, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. A timeline isn't definitive yet, and more testing is expected to take place but Wojnarowski reports that there's "optimism" that it's just a minor setback and he'll be ready to go for the start of the regular season. That's a sigh of relief for Indiana, but it's still unfortunate for the team to have so many missing pieces heading into training camp. 

For LeVert, it's just the latest in a line of roadblocks that have kept him sidelined over the past couple of seasons. He missed 25 games last season when a routine physical by the Pacers -- after being traded by the Brooklyn Nets -- discovered a small mass on his kidney. It was discovered early enough and doctors were able to remove it, and he returned to the floor for the remainder of the season. In 2019, he suffered a thumb injury that sidelined him for 23 games, and in 2018 he suffered a gruesome leg injury that forced him to miss 41 games.

When he's healthy, he's a solid facilitator and perhaps the best shot creator on the Pacers outside of Warren. He hasn't played more than 50 games since his second year in the league, but he averaged a career-high 20.2 points last season between the Pacers and the Nets. He isn't the most efficient shooter, especially from 3-point range as he's a career 33.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc, but he brings a different dynamic to Indiana's offense. 

If he's able to be ready for the start of the season, then that's great news for the Pacers, but if he has to miss time then it puts Indiana in a hole from a talent standpoint in a year where they were hoping to have a cleaner bill of health out of the gates.