After two easy wins over teams with a combined record of 8-37, there's a lot of discussion about whether the Nets supposed "fire sale" should start with Brook Lopez being shuffled off to another team. The Nets are 2-2 without their 7-footer, who's down with a strained back. The question now seems to be can the team work well with a center who's a ball-stopper despite his offensive talents?
"I don’t know, hopefully we can," Deron Williams told writers Saturday when asked if the team can keep this up when Lopez returns. "We need to. That’s how we want to play. I think everybody understands that, when the ball’s moving around like that, it’s fun to play like that. You get into a rhythm, you feed off each other’s energy and it’s good to see."
"I can’t worry about Brook right now," Lionel Hollins said. "I know that’s a question in the future, and an old coach once told me, ‘Don’t squeal until you get stuck.’ "
The big question of course is whether a free flowing offense, on display against two really bad teams, can work with a notoriously bad passer who's long been, when healthy, the fulcrum of the offense. Lopez, as Stefan Bondy points out, has 12 assists in 16 games (including five in his last three before going down).
More specifically, can Joe Johnson and Lopez exist in the same space? In the two games vs. Philly and Charlotte, Johnson has looked like his old self, despite being waylaid by a stomach virus in the two previous games. He scored 34 points on 14-of-27 shooting, including 6-of-11 from three. He did all that damage from the outside. He didn't get to the line once in the last two games.
Of course, Lopez was thriving himself before he went down. In his last three games, two of which the Nets won --including their only win over a winning team, Lopez averaged 19.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 assists while shooting 45.4 percent overall. Against the Spurs, he had his best game, 15 points and 16 rebounds, the second highest total in his career and the most in a single game since 2009. (Johnson had one of his worst games that night, hitting only 4-of-16 vs. San Antonio.)
As for trading him, Lopez might not bring much back if the Nets pushed hard to dump him. His history of injuries, his max contract --and perhaps most significantly his player option in July-- would make it tough for Billy King to get return value.
- Minus ball hog Brook Lopez, Nets have 29 assists in blowout of Hornets - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Will Brook Lopez adjust or leave? - Mike Mazzeo - New York Post
Nets players wonder if they play better without Brook Lopez - Jesus Gomez - SB Nation