Brook Lopez Opts Out of Deal With Nets
The Brooklyn Nets were built to be title contenders. The past two years they failed at living up to expectations and now the unraveling of their roster has begun. A huge piece of the puzzle, center Brook Lopez, has officially opted out of his contract and joins the rest of the big names in free agency.
Due to make over $16 million in the final year of his deal in the upcoming 2015-16 NBA season, Lopez correctly opted out to chase bigger bucks on a long-term deal after showing yet again this past season just how much he brings to the table.
After suffering through foot injuries in 2011 and 2013, Lopez rebounded in 2014 with elite play after the All-Star break and a solid showing in the playoffs despite a tough matchup.
With major money on the line, Lopez decided to be ton his surging value, rather than simply take the money that was guaranteed. It was arguably the smart move, but now the big question becomes where Lopez should sign this summer.
Brooklyn still figures to have a decent chance at retaining Lopez, but they’d have to blow him away with a huge long-term offer and it’s also likely they’d have to prove their willingness to build a roster that can actually contend. Brooklyn’s roster as currently constructed probably isn’t going to contend for a championship and if the money offered from the Nets isn’t more than everyone else, Lopez could easily leave town.
That is, of course, is there is a better situation with a good amount of money.
Lopez is bound to get several offers, as many big name free agents could be jumping ship as well, while the need for quality center play in general in the league is extremely high.
The Milwaukee Bucks are one team that has been directly connected to Lopez in the past, but he could have limitless options. Rebuilding teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks could be looking to add top shelf free agency talent to help with quick turn arounds, while someone like the Oklahoma City Thunder or Sacramento Kings (depending on what they do with trades and in free agency) could be a fit.
The biggest issue with Lopez in a new city is that any team courting him has to know his strengths and work around his limitations. Lopez has proven to be a fantastic offensive force and if an offense goes through him, it can be successful. He’s probably better suited as a number two offensive option, but at just 27 years old, Lopez still might even have a little untapped potential remaining.
Lopez does have some red flags, of course, as he’s not a tenacious rebounder (especially given his size), lacks awareness and timing on the defensive end and has a shaky injury history.
The right team will look past Lopez’s health woes and will hope they can coach him up on the defensive end. That, or they’ll ignore both weak points and love him for his offensive skill-set.
While there are sure to be other suitors and Lopez could be tempted to leave, Brooklyn is the franchise that drafted him and they want to keep him. The Nets will pay to keep their franchise player and town and after trading away young center Mason Plumlee on Thursday night, there is no longer any doubt about who the future is at center in Brooklyn.
Brook Lopez is the future and now he just has to sign on the dotted line. Lopez himself doesn’t make the Nets title contenders, but they’ve made the playoffs the past two years. With him back and better moves going forward, Brooklyn could start to go right where they went wrong.
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