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Better with Brook? ESPN asks whether that's the case?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Brook Lopez took the court before the Magic game on Fan Appreciation Night Sunday.  He thanked the fans, but for the most part, they were focused on the large white walking boot that over the past three years has seemed to be his most notable fashion accessory.  Lopez, whose foot was re-constructed in January, is not long off crutches but he walked with barely a limp.  A good sign.

However, with the Nets playing so well without him, and having a young, exciting center filing in for him, the question is being asked, "Are the Nets going to be better without Brook?"  Beckley Mason, writing for ESPN, raises the question and notes that Lopez has missed 185 games over the last three years while Mason Plumlee looks like a (the?) steal of the draft. Mason also suggests that the absence of Lopez has permitted the Nets to final develop an identity.

Brash, quirky and serious all at once. It’s that sort of vibe that connects the Nets with their fan base, as does a two-month home winning streak.

It's not that Lopez isn't quirky. He is the essence of quirk. It's just that the team's style is now different without him, a little hipper, a bit quicker. Of course, no one can know whether the Nets would have succeeded in 2014 if they had Lopez. It's possible that Kidd's ability to reshape the team could have worked just as well with Lopez.

As for (idle?) speculation that the Nets could trade Lopez and get a big return, league sources suggest that there's no harm in them waiting until the trade deadline next February. By then, everyone will know how well Lopez is recovering and whether Plumlee, only two years younger than Lopez, has made significant improvements.  Mikhail Prokhorov didn't get rich selling low ... if indeed that's what the Nets want to do.