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Friday, March 21, 2014
Brook Lopez also had ankle surgery

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez underwent successful left ankle surgery on March 3 to repair a torn tendon and tighten lateral ligaments, the team announced Friday.

Lopez, 25, had suffered a pair of left ankle sprains this season on Nov. 15 in Phoenix and on Dec. 12 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Lopez has already been ruled out for the season due to a fractured fifth metatarsal of his right foot. He underwent surgery to repair that injury on Jan. 4, and is expected to return to basketball activities sometime in June.

Brook Lopez
The Nets had known about Brook Lopez's ankle tear, and before his foot injury had expected Lopez was going to be able to gut his way through it.

Lopez visited with doctors on Friday and his right foot is healing great, according to Nets general manager Billy King.

Lopez will have to wear a removable cast on his left ankle for the next 3 to 3½ weeks. He is expected to have the boot on his right foot removed in about 1½ weeks.

The Nets knew about the ankle tear and expected that Lopez was going to be able to gut his way through it, King said. But things changed when Lopez broke his right foot on Jan. 20 in Philadelphia, ending his season.

King expects that Lopez will be able to fit in to the team's system -- which is predicated on playing small and getting steals -- when he returns.

"If you put Brook at center and the other four guys around him, you can play the same way. I think he'll fit in fine," King said of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

King isn't concerned about Lopez long term, citing Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who overcame several foot injuries to have his number retired in Cleveland.

"I think talking to the doctor this time they've got it right," King said.

Lopez also had a second procedure on Jan. 4, called a first metatarsal osteotomy, in which another bone was repositioned in his foot to unload and protect the injured area. Lopez previously fractured the same fifth metatarsal in December 2011, and later had a screw replaced in it this past offseason.

The 25-year-old was averaging a team-high 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 17 games.

Lopez is in the second year of a four-year, $60 million max contract he signed in the summer of 2012.

The Nets' No. 1 priority this summer is to re-sign Shaun Livingston, King said.

Because they don't have his Bird Rights, the Nets, who are over the salary cap, can only offer Livingston their taxpayer mid-level exception, which starts around $3.3 million. Other teams may decide to offer Livingston more money, as the 28-year-old is having a career-best season.

"The market will set itself, and then he's gotta make a decision on what's best for him," King said. "Do you take a million more to go play and lose? ... So that's where I think players make those decisions."

King said he has not had any talks with Pierce about a contract extension. Pierce is in the final year of his contract, and is making $15.3 million this season.

King does not know when Garnett, who has missed the last 11 games due to back spasms, will return to the lineup. Garnett will be re-evaluated on Saturday, but King wants Garnett to take his time and make sure he's ready for the playoffs.

King is also wondering where the anonymous scout who shredded Jason Kidd's coaching is now that the Nets have turned things around.

Back in mid-November when the Nets were struggling, an anonymous scout was quoted as describing Kidd's coaching on the sideline as "terrible" in a Bleacher Report story.

Now that Kidd has turned the Nets around and has them in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, King wants Kidd to get his due credit.

"Jason has been amazing," King said. "That one scout that took that shot at him early in the year, I wish he would speak up now because it is easy to criticize somebody when you have injuries and a new team trying to put it together.

"And now nobody is really saying how great a job he's done. And nobody is saying he is sitting down [too much]. It is easy to attack people negatively but when people have success you should give them the credit. A lot of our success that we are having is directed [to Kidd]."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk was used in this story.