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Kenny Atkinson offers praise for Brook Lopez as trade deadline looms

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — With the trade deadline basically one week away, it comes as no surprise that Brook Lopez’s name has floated around quite a few times already.

Still, Sean Marks and the Nets have shown no real indication that they want to get rid of Brook unless it’s for two first-round picks. And, as far as Kenny Atkinson’s concerned, Lopez has been a model player for the Brooklyn Nets organization.

Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Bucks, Atkinson was asked what it’s been like to coach Lopez. Atkinson, a first year coach, had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.

It could be a valedictory on the occasion of his departure or a rationale for his continued stay. After all, if the Nets trade him at the deadline, this could be his last game as a Net.

“I think he’s been very helpful to me. I look at his mentality and his spirit. This is a guy who’s been in the playoffs, been an All-Star and out of all our guys, this is obviously a tough situation. This franchise means a lot to him. He’s been here a long time and I know that it’s been difficult for him, but rarely have I seen any signs of him with real outward frustration. He’s been a positive influence on the coaches, on the team, so I’m just thrilled with his spirit and how he’s represented himself; how he’s helping our young guys. And, I’ve been impressed with his play. I’ve said this a bunch of times, but he’s a better player than I thought he was and I thought he was pretty darn good when we played him in the playoffs a couple years ago. His skill level, his IQ, and I think he’s making progress defensively. He’s obviously an elite offensive player in this league but I think he’s a better defender than we give him credit for. I’m proud of the way he’s handled himself and I really enjoy working with him on a daily basis.”

Lopez has averaged 20.5 points per game this season and has shot the three ball at the highest rate of his career (33 percent). Of course all of this means very little when placed next to the history of the man: the last Net to play in New Jersey, the first to embrace the move to Brooklyn.

In a podcast Wednesday, Zach Lowe and Howard Beck said that it’s unlikely that the Nets could even get one first round pick for the 7-footer. Beck explained his thinking in a tweet...

We will know in a week.