The Brooklyn Nets will likely face a tough decision this summer, with All-Star center Brook Lopez expected to opt out of the final year of his contract. This would mean that the Nets will have to decide whether or not to give him a max contract extension this summer or to let him walk, possibly to a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, who are rumored to be interested in the seven footer.
Nets GM Billy King did say this summer that the team is looking to build around Lopez and Thaddeus Young, which leads many to believe that, yes, the team will offer up a generous contract extension to lock up Lopez as the team's building block.
However, some seem a bit hesitant to accept Lopez as a franchise cornerstone, especially after what we're witnessing in these NBA Finals.
Steve Lichtenstein of CBS writes that the Nets would be making a big mistake by re-signing Lopez this summer if and when he opts out. He points to the series between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, where 7-footers Timofey Mozgov and Andrew Bogut have become after thoughts.
Other than brief but disastrous three-minute cameos by Bogut and backup Festus Ezeli, the Warriors went uber small, with six-foot-seven Draymond Green as the nominal "five" on the floor for the majority of the last two games.
It didn’t matter that the Cavaliers featured a frontcourt comprising 7-footer Timofey Mozgov and 6-foot-9 board beast Tristan Thompson. In the end, it was the Warriors’ superior all-around play that won both days. Golden State’s 104-91 home victory on Sunday gave them a 3-2 lead in the series and put them on the precipice of their first NBA title since 1975.
Kerr’s Warriors are a blur of speed, athleticism, teamwork and unconscious long-range shooting. This is how most teams win in the 21st century. The days of dumping the ball into Wilt, Kareem, Hakeem or Shaq in the low post and then clearing out are over.
He also goes on to note that Lopez is more than just a low-post, dump-and-clear-out center. He's more skilled than that at putting the ball in the basket.
It would seem to be a valuable point made by Lichtenstein, however it's a bit difficult to compare as "apples and apples." Had a team like the Memphis Grizzlies made the NBA Finals, or the San Antonio Spurs, or even the Los Angeles Clippers -- all of who had a legitimate shot this year -- you would want someone like Lopez in because those teams can't survive without their bigs. And if the Nets would have somehow made it to the NBA Finals to play the Warriors, well, they're not good enough to compete with them anyway, with or without a Lopez-Bogut matchup.
Again, I think there's something to the fact that the NBA is a faster, more athletic league. That sort of goes without saying, and Billy King has said that a priority is to get more athletic -- we've known that for years. I'm just not sure that Lopez is anymore the problem than Lichtenstein has noted in his piece.
Will the Nets shift their thinking based on how the NBA Finals are playing out? I highly doubt it. But, if Lichtenstein did hit one particular nail directly on the head it's that they do need to get more athletic. They have to.
- Lichtenstein: Re-Signing Brook Lopez Would Make Nets Evolution Deniers - Steve Lichtenstein - CBS New York