Friday, December 23, 2011
Updated: December 24, 10:35 AM ET
Brook Lopez to miss up to 8 weeks
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez is expected to return in six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery Friday to repair a non-displaced stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the right foot, the team announced.
"A single screw was inserted into the bone to stabilize the fracture and speed up the healing process," foot specialist Dr. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. "He was placed in a boot and will walk with the aid of crutches. Brook will begin his rehab in two weeks."
O'Malley and Nets team orthopedist Dr. Riley Williams III performed the procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
Lopez, 23, was hurt during the first half of Wednesday night's preseason game against the New York Knicks. His surgery comes just three days before the Nets open the 66-game regular season in Washington.
The Nets didn't waste any time finding a short-term replacement, trading a 2015 second-round pick to the Utah Jazz in exchange for 32-year-old veteran Mehmet Okur. The 6-foot-11 Okur will make almost $10.9 million this season in what is the final year of his contract.
"It's very tough," Deron Williams said of Lopez's injury. "I've been in this same situation before with Carlos Boozer a couple years ago where we had him for all of training camp and he goes down and you have to try and find somebody to step up. It was Paul Milsap back then. So now we gotta find somebody right now whether it be Hump (Kris Humphries) or now Mehmet. Guys are going to have to step up and give us a lift."
The Nets also officially added swingman DeShawn Stevenson Friday. The 30-year-old veteran, who was a member of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks last season, will be signed for the season to the mini mid-level exception of $2.5 million, a league source told ESPNNewYork.com.
He was glad that the Nets made a trade to help fill the void.
"I think we got a good core," Stevenson said. "I want to try to make the playoffs and win games."
Given the six- to eight-week time frame, Lopez likely would be able to return in mid to late February. His identical twin, Robin Lopez, suffered the same injury in 2009 and returned after approximately seven weeks.
A four-year pro, Lopez has never missed an NBA game. He has been rumored as the potential centerpiece in a blockbuster offer for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
"I've seen star players go out before," coach Avery Johnson said. "And the main thing is we have to play with a lot of urgency. We've got to play, nobody's going to give us any sympathy. We're not asking for any. We're missing one of our top two players, that's a fact. But we're going to suit up. We're going to be ready to go in Washington and hopefully give ourselves a chance to win."
Lopez averaged a career-high and team-best 20.4 points per game last season, and was intent on improving his career-worst average of 6.0 rebounds. In two preseason games against the Knicks, Lopez had 20 rebounds and looked to be well on his way to accomplishing that goal.
"Everybody is going to have to step their game up a little more," Williams said.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.