Rookie guard Chris Duarte was walking to the locker room at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse when he found out the Pacers had traded Caris LeVert to the Cavaliers.
In fact, Duarte said he found out from LeVert himself.
“In the hallway, he was on the phone and he told me that he love me, and I say, ‘Why would you say that? What’s wrong? And say he leaving, he got traded,” Duarte told reporters. “That’s how I found out.”
Following the exchange, Duarte and the Pacers eventually lost to LeVert’s new team.
But for Indiana, the game was almost beside the point. LeVert has been a great teammate, great locker room guy and often great scorer. He erupted for 42 points in his final game as a Pacer (Friday vs. Bulls).
This trade was unique in the sense that it occurred right before the Cavs and Pacers were to tip off … in Cleveland … with LeVert in the arena.
“Before the deal was consummated, I had Caris in my office here in the arena, and Chad Buchanan, our general manager, was on speaker (phone) with me in the room, Caris in the room, before Cleveland had agreed to the final terms of the deal,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “We talked to him about the fact that this thing was at the 1-yard line and that it was likely gonna happen.
“We have a very unique situation with our franchise, an agreement between our front office and our players that if a deal like this gets close that they will talk to the player and let him know so he doesn’t see it on social media or something like that.”
The Pacers received the expiring contract of injured guard Ricky Rubio, the Cavs’ 2022 first-round pick and two second-rounders in exchange. Part of the reason Indiana felt comfortable making made the deal was because of the quick emergence of Duarte.
“It’s tough, you know. Caris is a great teammate, a great person,” Duarte said. “I learned a lot from him. He helped me a lot on and off the court. We always talk. I remember I came up to him and ask him about how do you stay confident when things not going well for you? What you do? He was always talking to me. You know, it’s tough, but it’s part of the business. …
“We said that we love each other. He told me that he love me, and I told him that I love him, too.”
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