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October 22, 2014

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Former BYU star back on track in NBA Summer League

After injury, off-court issues, Trent Plaisted taking life one day at a time

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Justin M. Bowen

Trent Plaisted (44), plays against the Sacramento Kings during the NBA Summer League at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.

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Trent Plaisted (44), comes off the court during the NBA Summer League at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.

Former BYU center Trent Plaisted has simplified his basketball expectations. He doesn’t look beyond today, and today looks pretty good in the NBA Summer League.

“I get a chance to go out and start every game,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of guys who can do that, no matter what happens. Look at the guys from the Mountain West Conference last season.

“I don’t know how many guys will be starting on their summer teams.”

Lorrenzo Wade of San Diego State didn’t even get off the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench Friday, and Wink Adams (UNLV) and Lee Cummard (BYU) aren’t expected to start for their respective New York and Phoenix squads.

Plaisted, 22, is quite happy just to be back at the summer league with a healthy back.

“If anything, I feel more bouncy than I ever have, jumping-wise,” he said.

A year ago, after Seattle picked him in the second round of the draft and dealt him to Detroit, Plaisted played for Angelica Biella at the foot of the Italian Alps.

He endured a grueling preseason of 17 games in a month, which included elite foes like Olympiakos of Greece, but he was shelved after two games in the regular season.

An MRI revealed a herniated disc, and he flew to Los Angeles for cortisone shots and therapy. Nothing worked, so he returned to BYU in December for surgery.

Doctors told him he probably injured himself at BYU. After his junior season, of 2007-08, he left school early to test himself in the professional ranks.

“When they did the surgery, they found out that I had had the herniation for a while,” Plaisted said. “It flared up in Italy. For all I know, I could have had the same problem my senior year of college, if I had stayed. It could have been even worse.”

Plaisted admitted that fallout from his wife Lacey’s arrest, in December 2007, for a drug-related driving offense factored into his leaving school early for the NBA draft.

Lacey Plaisted had been taking hydrocodone, a common painkiller, for a knee injury. She pleaded two misdemeanors down to a lesser charge of drug-related reckless driving.

Some people in and around Provo did not let the indiscretion pass quietly. There was a report of a parking lot incident, but Trent Plaisted said that fallout didn’t play a major role in his departure.

“Obviously, when things like that happen, they have a bearing on your life. It’s an unfortunate situation for everybody,” he said. “I think things could have been (handled) better on both sides. Certainly, it wasn’t the determining factor in my decision.

“Did I take it into account? Maybe a little bit. But it had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, my wife got thrown into the gutter. I’m leaving.’ That wasn’t how it worked.

If it had been nasty, Plaisted said he wouldn’t have returned to Provo for surgery and rehabilitation. The Cougars’ coaching staff played an integral role in getting him back on his feet.

Moreover, returning to Provo enabled him to finish his degree requirements by completing an economics course.

“I have a great relationship with the coaches at BYU,” Plaisted said. “There’s no love lost on either side of that equation. I love BYU and what it represents, and I had a great experience there.

“There are no hard feelings. It was time to go, to move on.”

He’s pragmatic about his past year.

“Coming out the other side, you learn a lot more reflecting back on it,” Plaisted said. “It might be hard, going through it. But after you’re through it, after it’s all over, you gain more from it.”

Friday, he had a dunk and another bucket on a power move. He was whistled for a couple of block calls. He ran without a hitch. He had a few power rebounds. Saturday, the lefty converted a right-handed hook.

Detroit holds his rights. For how long, he doesn’t know. Teams in France, Germany and Italy have been hounding his agent about next season.

Teams are always interested in young, 6-foot-11, 245-pound centers.

Just don’t ask Plaisted about tomorrow.

“I wish I could tell you about what my future is,” he said. “I think about it every day. I just try to control what I can, and that’s very little. I can only control what I do on the floor.

“Other than that, I’ve got to come with it every day. There will be struggles and stuff, but you’d be surprised how much better you get through adversity, as opposed to having a smooth sail all the time. That’s probably the most I’ve learned.”

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