Brook Lopez has been with the Brooklyn Nets since the 2008-2009 season when the team selected him with the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft, but it appears more so than ever that his time with the franchise has run its course.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, multiple teams are interested in the center and the Nets are more than eager to make something happen as they try to figure out how to fix their deeply-flawed roster:
The Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets began to gather traction on a three-way trade late Thursday afternoon, and planned to continue to discussions on Friday morning, league sources told Yahoo Sports. For the Nets, the biggest hurdle remained their willingness to take on combustible Charlotte guard Lance Stephenson, sources said.
Oklahoma City has been the most aggressive in its pursuit of Lopez, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Brooklyn has tried to find teams willing to move the expiring contract of Kendrick Perkins for an established player, sources said.
The Nets have delivered indications to teams they would like to settle on a trade by the weekend, league sources said.
With plenty of willing takers for Lopez, it sounds like he will be gone before the week is over.
Despite the big man’s ability to score, he has largely been a disappointment for the franchise. With Lopez at the helm, the Nets were mostly anywhere from pretty bad to one of the worst teams in the history of the NBA – look back to the 2009-2010 season when the Nets went 12-70.
Record wise, the Nets have been well under .500 in four of the past six seasons. The best year for the Nets with Lopez was in the 2012-2013 season, when the team acquired Joe Johnson and seemingly turned things around for the better with a 49-33 record. Ultimately, they lost 4-3 in the first round to a depleted Chicago Bulls team despite having homecourt advantage.
The following year saw an unexpectedly dreadful start for a team that had just brought in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to form a supposedly-dominant starting lineup. Lopez was constantly injured for the first two months of the season before suffering a season-ending broken foot. The Nets went 7-10 in the games he had played, which means they went 37-28 without him. Not coincidentally, their identity changed on both ends of the floor with him out of the lineup (for the better) and went on an absolute tear in January (10-3) to salvage a seemingly lost season.
Needless to say, it’s been another disappointing year for the Nets so far, and they’re desperate to make serious changes now.
So what has made Lopez such a detrimental player? A lot of it stems from his inability to move his feet quicker on defense and just as importantly, his black-hole ways on offense.
Lets start with his inability to crash the boards despite being a legitimate seven-footer. The defense is never over until you grab the rebound, and Lopez – playing the defensive-anchor position – has failed miserably in this department throughout his career.
His rebounding went from mediocre in his first two years in the league to absolutely dreadful since, never averaging more than 6.9 rebounds over the past four seasons. This year, he is averaging just 6.3 rebounds. Again, a lot of this is due to how slow-footed he is in general and his overall lack of athleticism, but there has also been a clear lack of effort or desire to do better, as you’ll sometimes see him practically jogging after the ball. Perfect example: he quite literally jogs after the ball here and predictably allows something terrible to happen in the process. Lionel Hollins has certainly taken notice of Lopez’s shortcomings in his first year as the head coach of the team and it didn’t take too long for him to relegate the center to the bench in favor of Mason Plumlee. To be fair, Lopez is capable of defending his position one-on-one when he’s interested – he has a career average of 1.7 blocks, and that counts for something – but he doesn’t have the intangibles of a center who wants to play defense and get stops on a possession-by-possession basis.
Then, there’s the offensive aspect. There is no denying that Lopez has a variety of weapons when it comes to scoring, be it hook shots, floaters or jump shots (being kind about the jumping part here). He has great touch around the paint area and knows how to score in nifty ways, which is why he has a career average of 17.8 points on 51 percent from the field. He’s also terrific from the line at his position with a career average of 79.1 percent. His offense is what attracts attention from various teams from around the league.
Unfortunately, the guy almost never wants to pass the ball once he has it. He is simply too drunk on scoring to care about what the heck is going on around him once he gets the ball. That’s never the right formula for winning basketball. Lopez has averaged under one assist for the last three years, and his assist to turnover ratio this year is 1:3. This is a guy who would rather jack up a shot that hits the side of the backboard or even the top of the backboard than look for an open teammate. He has practically mastered the art of bad shot selection. Despite being in the league for over six years, he has failed to develop as a playmaker, and this is extremely important given how often the ball goes to him. He has 16 total assists this season, which is the least number of assists out of anyone in the league who plays at least 25 minutes per game and has played at least 20 games, according to NBA.com.
Put the two together and you have a player who can drive you crazy on both ends of the floor. Time will tell where Lopez ends up. No matter the location, though, it will be truly surprising if he’s the reason for any team’s turnaround this year and beyond, given his unfavorable style of play. Regardless, here are some other teams interested in him, from Woj:
Denver has discussed a package centered on center JaVale McGee, but his consistent problems with injuries have discouraged the Nets’ interest, sources said. Miami raised the idea of a package including Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Josh McRoberts, sources told Yahoo Sports. The Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest too, sources said.
The Hornets have a strong interest in making a deal for Lopez, but league sources believe the Nets are focused on dealing Lopez to the Western Conference, league sources told Yahoo.
At least he is garnering interest, unlike another Nets player who is becoming increasingly difficult to move:
Brooklyn has been unable lately to find any traction in talks to move Williams, league sources said.
OTHER NEWS AND ITEMS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:
- Without going into details, Hakeem Olajuwon dismissed the notion that Michael Jordan and LeBron James are comparable, from Arjun Kharpal of CNBC: “When people start comparing him with Jordan then that’s not a fair comparison. Jordan was a far more superior player in a very tough league, he was very creative,” former Houston Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon told CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange. “That’s not taking away anything from LeBron because he is a great player but it is not a fair comparison because Jordan is a far superior player.”
- This week’s Shaqin’ A Fool is just too funny to not share here.
- Jordan Farmar will be bought out by the Clippers, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports: “The Los Angeles Clippers are in the final stages of working out a buyout of point guard Jordan Farmar that could be completed on Thursday night, a source told Yahoo Sports. The Clippers found Farmar expendable after acquiring guard Austin Rivers, the son of Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers, from the Boston Celtics in a three-team trade on Thursday. Farmer averaged 4.6 points on 38.6 percent shooting from field and 1.9 assists in 14.7 minutes per game for the Clippers this season.”
- Nate Robinson is garnering interest from some relevant teams, from Spears: “The Clippers, Heat and Wizards also have joined Cavaliers in expressing interest in free agent point guard Nate Robinson, a source said.”
- The Nets have no timetable for when Deron Williams might return to action from a fracture in his rib, from Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN: “The Brooklyn Nets said Williams, who has a fracture of the cartilage portion of his left 12th rib, is progressing but is still experiencing pain… Williams will be evaluated again on Wednesday when the Nets play at Sacramento. So it’s likely that Williams could miss that game and most, if not all, of that western trip simply because the point guard has yet to do any physical activity. Williams said on Tuesday that he was improving but that he still felt pain in almost everything he did, including when he tries to reach for something. He said he did not know when he could begin working out let alone return to play.”
- David Blatt was less than thrilled with a report stating that Tyronn Lue is undermining him, from Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group: “That’s a lot of nonsense and I think it’s kind of cheap, to be honest with you,” Blatt said before his team took the floor for shootaround on the campus of UCLA. Blatt said that it’s impossible for Lue to stop play. “If you know Ty, he’s a very vocal and active guy. An assistant coach can’t call a timeout in an NBA game, if you didn’t know that,” he said. “Now if he sees something, feels something and yells something out to alert me what he thinks, I don’t have a problem with that. I listen to what I think I need to listen to and what I don’t think I need to listen to.”
Jim Park is a blogger and editor of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.