Lopez Return From Injury Could Set D-Howard To Nets Trade In Motion

The New Jersey Nets will welcome back talented young center Brook Lopez back to their starting lineup on Sunday night according to a report from “ESPN.com” as the team hosts the Milwaukee Bucks at the Prudential Center. The 23-year-old former Stanford player has been on the shelf for the entire campaign as he has been recovering from breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during New Jersey’s final exhibition game on December 21.

According to the report; Lopez will play against the Bucks on Sunday but will then sit out the Nets contest against the New York Knicks on Monday night. If all goes well on Sunday, then he is scheduled to be back in the starting lineup as New Jersey takes on the Orlando Magic Wednesday night. The Magic will pay particular attention to the big man in that contest as he could be the centerpiece in a deal that would send Orlando’s All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Nets.

 Howard will become an unrestricted Free Agent at the conclusion of the current season and the Nets are one of the teams that are on the top of the center’s wish list as he longs to play with New Jersey starting point guard Deron Williams. Sources close to both clubs said that the two teams were deep in negotiations trying to put together a deal that would send Howard to the Nets for a package that included Lopez when the center was lost to injury. The deal was tabled until he returned to action to see if the injury had diminished his abilities on the floor.

The Nets center will enter his fourth season in the Association when he makes his season debut on Sunday; and can become a restricted Free Agent at the end of the campaign. The club that he is playing for at the conclusion of this season would be able to match any offer sheet given to the center if he does decide to test the market.

Lopez had a breakout season last year as he averaged 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He has averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest since being selected with the tenth pick  of the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Nets.

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