Brook Lopez was a first-time All-Star last year but in five years as a pro, he is a three-time sufferer of foot injuries and two have required surgery.
At some point during those two surgeries, Lopez had a screw inserted into his foot. After playing 74 regular season games and seven more playoff games through May 4, the screw came loose, as doctors discovered in his postseason physical.
Lopez originally fractured his foot in December 2011 in a preseason game against the Knicks. He underwent surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal. He returned on Feb. 19, 2012 after missing 32 games, but only played in five games before reinjuring the same foot. He sat out the rest of 2011-12 with another fracture in his foot.
Foot injuries are common among NBA big men and have derailed some careers but when addressing the news Monday at the team’s practice facility, Nets general manager Billy King did not sound concerned.
Repeating the “I’m not a doctor” line, King credited the proactive approach and said he expects his All-Star center to resume basketball activities sometime in August, which is about a month before training camp starts.
“After the season, the X-rays that they took they noticed that it was bent — the screw. So just being proactive, they took it out,” King said. “He’ll be back in August. It was pain free so he didn’t need another surgery. The X-rays were good.”
The reason for King’s lack of concern is simple. After missing seven games in December with a right foot sprained, Lopez played in every game except for April 15 against Washington when he was resting for the playoffs.
“For me I don’t have any concern because it wasn’t something that he had pain with,” King said “It wasn’t like he was prevented from playing.”
As for the draft, it won’t cause the Nets to necessarily use their pick on a backup center. Andray Blatche is a free agent but played well with Lopez and while backing him up and the team would like to resign him.
“There’s nobody as good as his Brook Lopez in this draft,” King said.
The most significant thing it will impact is Lopez’s participation in the USA Basketball minicamp in preparation for next year’s World Championships and eventually the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Lopez was originally on the team that won the gold medal at the World Championships three years ago but had to withdraw due to mononucleosis.
“He’s disappointed but he’s looking at a season where he was an All-Star,” King said. “So he appreciates the fact at what he’s accomplished. So I think he’ll be more excited to have the chance to play for the team when it goes to the Olympics and World Championships.”
King talks draft process, Kidd’s input
As far as the draft is concerned, King lets director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky and his scouting staff provide significant input since they’ve seen college players more than anyone in the organization.
The process consists of a mock draft where they rank the Top-60 names in the draft without the presence of King, new head coach Jason Kidd and other front office members. Then they present their rankings to King and go from there.
There is a possibility the Nets could trade up from No. 22, especially if one of their more highly ranked players falls into their sights.
“If we have a guy that our guys rated 15 and he starts falling then we’ll try to move him and get him,” King said. “That’s why I like having it ranked because then you can focus on trying to acquire the players you want rather than decide who you want to take at 22.”
This draft is regarded as thin because of the unknown factor at the top, but highly regarded in the area where the Nets are currently slotted because of the abundance of experienced players. King has stated publicly that the team’s main needs Thursday are more athleticism and improved shooting from the bench.
“I think of where we are, it’s better because guys are more polished and you know more who they are. They may not be a franchise guy but they could be a good piece. I think when you’re drafting in the lottery, especially this draft you’re trying to project where a guy may be and sometimes those projections may be out because a lot of guys are very close.”
Another need may be a backup point guard since C.J. Watson is expected to opt out and King wants competition for the spot along with Tyshawn Taylor.
As for Kidd’s role, King said that he looks for the little things in players who work out and not the obvious things such as shooting and passing.
“He’s not wowed by a guy making shots,” King said. “He’s more wowed by a guy setting a screen rolling on the pick-and-roll. He’ll say, that’s a great pass, or he’s looking at guys that may not be in the draft but they’re here working out with us and he’s saying that guy’s got a chance where maybe if we can draft him for the D-League. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Assistant coaching announcement coming soon
Since the Nets hired Kidd on June 12, getting an assistant coaching staff in place has become a priority.
Reportedly former Detroit assistant Roy Rogers is close to accepting a role and former Nets head coach Lawrence Frank remains a candidate. Frank was let go by the Pistons and Kidd openly recruited him at his introductory press conference.
Regardless of the names, King indicated the news will be released soon.
“I think probably in the next couple of days, we’ll make some announcements,” King said.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.