With the New Jersey Nets eliminated from making the Post Season and with just nine games to play before they head home until next October; “The Star-Ledger” has reported that they have decided to shut starting center Brook Lopez down for the balance of the campaign. It has been a star-crossed season for the talented big man as injuries kept him on the sidelines except for five games in the campaign. Lopez will become a restricted Free Agent at the end of the campaign; which means New Jersey will be able to match any offer sheet he receives from any other club this summer.
The former Stanford player broke a bone in his right foot in a pre-season contest against the New York Knicks, which needed surgery to be repaired. He took the court for the first time in a game on February 19 against the Milwaukee Bucks. After having some strong performances; scoring 38 points as the Nets topped the Dallas Mavericks and knocking down 28 points in a loss to the Boston Celtics; He twisted his right ankle early in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats. That would be the last time Lopez hit the hardwood in a game for the season.
New Jersey General Manager Billy King issued a statement announcing the decision to keep the team’s starting center inactive for the rest of the campaign. King said “Brook will not play the rest of this year. He’s healing nicely, but with (nine) games to go, and him being a free agent and looking at the future, we decided to shut him down for the rest of the year.”
Had the big man not broken his foot their just may have been a shakeup in the NBA Eastern Conference that would have altered the balance of power in the Conference. Lopez was allegedly the centerpiece of a package that the Nets were willing to send to the Orlando Magic in exchange for All-Star center Dwight Howard. When Lopez was injured the talks were reportedly put on hold, and Howard has since agreed to play under the terms of his existing contract for next season.
That trade not coming to fruition could cause the Nets to lose starting point guard Deron Williams as he will become an unrestricted Free Agent this summer. Although New Jersey acquired forward Gerald Wallace before the March 15, trade deadline that may not be enough to keep Williams from signing with another team.
The Nets head into their Sunday night contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a record of 20-37 and uncertain if they will still have the same roster for their move to Brooklyn next season; or if they will once again have to go into rebuild mode.