Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Brook Lopez happy with Nets
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Brook Lopez would like to remain a member of the Brooklyn Nets for the rest of his career. Whether that happens or not, remains to be seen.
Lopez, 24, re-signed with the Nets for four years and $60 million last week, according to a league source. He is eligible to be traded again on Jan. 15. And if Dwight Howard is still with the Orlando Magic at that point, trade rumors could swirl once again.
But for now, Lopez is happy he got a long-term commitment from the only franchise he's ever known.
"The Nets are the only place I want to be," said Lopez, who was drafted 10th overall by the Nets in 2008. "I want to be a Net for my entire career."
Lopez's name has been mentioned in potential blockbuster packages for Howard since last December.
Not that he's noticed much.
"I don't read a lot of stuff you guys write," Lopez said. "I read a lot of comic books and they don't mention Dwight Howard much."
Nets coach Avery Johnson went to Lopez's basketball camp in New Jersey recently to put his big man's mind at ease.
"It was very reassuring," Lopez said. "He wants to build something special here and he wants me to be a part of it."
Said Johnson: "It was just more to reiterate that we believe in you, and really brace him for what was going to happen. I've been calling Brook, 'Brooklyn,' so it would really make me look bad for calling him Brooklyn for a year and then he never went to Brooklyn."
Johnson said the possibility that Lopez may be traded again come Jan. 15 never came up in their discussions.
"Whenever a free agent signs a contract, I don't think the possibility of you being traded in January ever comes up," Johnson said. "We're glad where it worked out where he's here. He's obviously drawn some attention from other teams in the free-agency process, but he's home, he's with the Brooklyn Nets, and he'll be in the starting lineup (at center) at Barclays Center on opening night."
Lopez said he didn't know if he would've agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to go to Orlando if a deal was consummated between the Nets and the Magic.
Has he received any reassurances from the organization that he won't be dealt?
"They signed me, and like Avery said, that's a very good sign of faith from them," Lopez replied.
Lopez, who played just five games last season due to a foot injury, said he isn't 100 percent right now, and hasn't played 5-on-5 yet. He is expecting to be healthy by the start of training camp.
Johnson said he thinks Lopez is a top-five center, an assessment Lopez agrees with.
Lopez, who owns a career average of 17.4 points per game over five seasons, has always been known for his scoring ability, but his rebounding numbers have suffered since 2010-11. While he didn't have a number in mind, Lopez hopes to get back to where he was his first two years in the NBA, when he averaged over eight boards per contest.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.