Surgeons "reposition" bone in Brook Lopez's foot to "decrease the likelihood of re-injury"

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The word "reconstruct" isn't used in the Nets update on Brook Lopez's surgery earlier Saturday, but the implication is clear from what team physician Dr. Riley J. Williams III reported, that the Nets surgeons had "repositioned" a bone in Lopez's foot beyond repairing the fracture to "decreases the likelihood of re-injury in the future."

Here's the full update...

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez underwent successful surgery this morning, January 4, to repair the fractured fifth metatarsal of his right foot, Nets’ General Manager Billy King announced.  The procedure was performed by Dr. James Nunley, Duke University Medical Center’s Department Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, Nets’ foot and ankle specialist Dr. Martin O'Malley and team medical director Dr. Riley Williams III.  In addition to the fracture repair, a second procedure, a first metatarsal osteotomy, was performed to unload and protect the injured area. [Osteotomy is a surgical operation whereby a bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or change its alignment.]

"With this procedure, we both fixed the broken bone (fifth metatarsal) in Brook's right foot and repositioned another bone, so that his sole of his foot will bear weight more evenly than before," said Dr. Williams. "The repositioning portion of the surgery lessens the stress on the fractured bone, and decreases the likelihood of re-injury in the future."

Lopez, who was injured during the December 20th game at Philadelphia, is out for the remainder of the season, but is expected to make a full recovery and will be back on the court for offseason workouts.

At the time of his injury, Lopez was averaging a team-high 20.7 points along with 6.0 rebounds and 1.76 blocks through 17 games played this season.

If was Lopez's fourth procedure on his right foot in the past three years. He missed all but five games in 2011-12 and will miss more than 50 games this season.  Nunley, the lead surgeron, performed successful surgery on Duke center Marshall Plumlee's left foot in April.  Marshall is Mason and Miles' brother. He also performed foot surgery on other Duke basketball players, including Grant Hill, Ryan Kelly and Brian Zoubek.  The head of orthopedic surgery at Duke, he performed the fourth surgery on Hill's chronic left ankle in 2003. As part of that procedure, Ken Berger writes, Nunley broke Hill's left heel and realigned his left leg. Poor alignment and mobility restrictions often are the root causes of chronic knee and foot injuries.

While Hill played nine more seasons after his radical surgery (and a staph infection that almost killed him), two other foot "re-designs" had different outcomes. Zydunas Ilgauskas played well for Cleveland but Yao Ming had to retire. Ilgauskas in fact had a seven year stretch after surgery where he missed a total of 23 games. None of Saturday's surgical team were involved in either the Ilgauskas or Yao surgeries.

Bill King told reporters that the doctors talked with numerous other specialists and decided on the approach they took Saturday.. The Nets think Lopez has much Brooklyn basketball ahead of him, King said, but everyone will have to wait and see..

“It’s a break. Talk to me in October, or this summer when he’s working out, and that’s all we can do,” King said. “There’s not a magical answer I can give you guys to say to project into the future. I can only answer what the doctors told me. … That’s what it comes down to.”

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