Edmond Sumner has been back in the gym in recent weeks — after his honeymoon in Bora Bora, part of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. He’s been doing things other players have been doing, working on his handle, his defense, his shot, but he’s also been finishing up his rehab from a ruptured achilles tendon that kept him out all of last year.
On Thursday, he tweeted out an update this trainer was thrilled about...
So proud of you Ed! Your patience is being rewarded. https://t.co/RKr7etuTh0— Joey Burton (@JoeyBurton) September 8, 2022
“Up and down” appears to be going five-on-five. When Sumner was signed back in early July (to a partially guaranteed deal), Burton had said that while the 26-year-old had impressed the Nets with his explosiveness during a June workout, he had yet to go full speed five-on-five.
For Sumner, who played four seasons with the Pacers, it was another milestone on another road back. As he told Chris Carrino on his “Voice of the Nets” podcast this week, he’s suffered a number of injuries including an ACL tear and chronic knee soreness while at Xavier as well as the achilles rupture in a pre-season workout a year ago. He was even carted off the floor at the Cincinnati school after falling on his head, an injury that seemed worse than it was. And his road to the NBA has also included a family tragedy, the death of his older brother in February 2018 during his rookie season.
“I try to be positive about things. I honestly feel they all happen for a reason,” Sumner told Carrino who asked if he’s as positive about things as he appears. But that doesn’t mean the injuries have been easy to deal with. He noted in particular his ACL injury that took place his last year at Xavier when he was averaging 15 points a game and looking forward to the NBA Draft.
“I didn’t know anything about the injury,” he said, noting initially he thought he had broken his foot. “It was hard. I though my NBA dream was over. I didn’t know how it was going to be. I relied on my athleticism especially in college. At that time, I hadn’t really worked on my shot.”
So, Sumner worked on his game while rehabbing and was taken No. 52 in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Pelicans who sold his rights to the Pacers. He spent all of 2017-18 on a two-way deal, but with rehab, he played only 14 games for Fort Wayne and and one for Indiana.
By September 2021, he had a new contract and was getting ready for a jump after averaging 7.5 points in mostly a reserve role while racking up 53/40/82 shooting splits, combining his open court game with a new deep shooting skill.
Then, a week before training camp, he ruptured his achilles, putting him out for the year.
“The injury cursed me.” he said.
“I’m playing well. I know the opportunity coming into this season. And then that happens a week before training camp. I was just doing a workout. It was just a simple fast break. Somebody threw it ahead and me a fast break pass and I’d just do a one-dribble. I tore my achilles.”
For the second time, he was worried about losing his 40” vertical but again it came back after recovery and rehab including dozens of 90-minute sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, as recommended by his surgeon, Dr. Martin O’Malley, who is also the Nets foot and ankle specialist who had done Kevin Durant’s achilles surgery two years earlier.
He described the lengthy rehab as “little better, little better, little better, big jump, little better, little better, little better, big jump.”
Carrino noted his own experiences with FSHD, a form of muscular dystrophy, saying that those who’ve had to overcome multiple physical issues know they can succeed because they’ve been through it all before.
Not long after he tore his achilles, Sumner got traded ironically, as it turned out, to the Nets in a salary dump, the Nets giving up a 2025 second rounder and the rights to their long-time stash, Juan Pablo Vaulet. Four days late, the Nets released Sumner and he returned to rehab. By February, he was back to dunking and by early June, he returned to Brooklyn for a workout which led to him signing his deal on July 5.
“I was excited. I see how Kevin came back from his injury and came to being one of the best players in the world,” Sumner noted, explaining that he chose Doctor O’Malley because had done KD’s achilles surgery.
“That was the reason I went to him,” Sumner said of O’Malley. “I was like, ‘who did his surgery? I need to go to that person!” I need this done right.”
Now that he’s feeling good, what should Nets fans expect from Sumner? One thing, he said, was an ability to play multiple positions, not just at the wing. Sumner specifically mentioned point guard as a possibility.
“I came from college where I played point guard. I am ball dominant! When I got to the NBA ... the Pacers pretty much moved me to the 2. It was crowded at point and I wanted to play. I was ‘whatever, I got the height. I could play the 2.’ “
Sumner also said he has put “such an emphasis on the defensive end” that he can switch and play against all comers. He noted some goals as well, getting his free throw percentage up to 90 after hitting 82 percent in 2020-21, and improving on his mid-range game.
“I feel I can do a lot of stuff, play off the ball, if you want me to play multiple positions. guard multiple positions,” he told Carrino. “I feel I can be a jack of all trades.”