Careful, monsters be near ... There is a particular seven foot monster that lurks around corner, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to wander around the wrong bend. If you were to come face-to-face with this blood thirsty beast, you have only once chance to make it out alive, just one. By stomping on that monster's right foot, as hard as you can, you make live to see another day!
Brook Lopez's career as a basketball player started off so well. He played in all 82 games for the Nets his first three years in the league, and played well. His point totals rose from 13 in his rookie season, to 18.8, and 20.4 by his third. His rebounding was decent his first three seasons at 7.5 per, and he was blocking 1.6 shots per game.
After his third season however, the cautionary tale began as the injuries mounted.
2011-12: Lopez played in 5 of his team's 66 games (lockout shortened season):
Dec. 21, 2011: In the Nets final preseason game, Lopez gets hurt. Lopez is found to have a stress fracture in his fifth metatarsal in his right foot, sidelining him from Dec. 26th, 2011 to Feb. 19th, 2012.
March 4th, 2012: Lopez is injured in just his fifth game back, turning an ankle, and expected to miss three weeks. The Nets come out on March 23rd, and General Manager Billy King says a "line" on a CT scan reveals the broken bone Lopez suffered in his foot, never fully healed. On April 6th, the Nets announce Lopez will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season.
2012-13: Lopez played in 74 of his team's 82 games, also played in all seven playoff games:
Nov. 30, 2012: Lopez suffers a sprained right ankle and misses seven games from Nov. 30th to Dec. 12th, 2013.
2013-14: Lopez played in just 17 of his team's 82 games, missed playoffs (two rounds):
Dec. 20th, 2014: He missed nine games between Oct. 30th and Dec. 20th, and was officially out for the season after Dec. 20th.
Dec. 20th, 2013: Has surgery to, again, repair broken fifth metatarsal in right foot (same injury as 2011).
Jan. 4th, 2014: Has "second procedure, called a first metatarsal osteotomy, in which another bone was repositioned in his foot to unload and protect the injured area."
March 3rd, 2014: Has surgery to repair torn tendon in left ankle and to tighten lateral ligaments in same left ankle.
2014-15: Lopez has played in 32 of his teams 42 games this season.
Preseason injury: Lopez missed the first two games of the season with a sprained right foot, suffered in a preseason game.
Dec. 8th, 2014: Lopez is out for eight games with a lower back strain, he returned to action on Dec. 23rd with a 102-96 win over ... the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Lopez had 6 points and 4 rebounds in just 8 minutes of action.
Lopez's shot chart from this season:
Does that sound like a player the Nuggets should take a gamble on? We can say "injuries be damned" all we want, but there has to be a fear there for the Nuggets. Gambling on big men with bad feet, and back issues sounds like the perfect recipe for disaster, but Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post tells us the Nuggets might be flirting with such a gamble:
The Brooklyn Nets recently tried, unsuccessfully, to deal center Brook Lopez, which led to the franchise putting the brakes on the whole trading him concept in total.
But when those wheels get back turning again - and they will - there will be no shortage of suitors, and the Nuggets are expected to be among them. They've already made one run at it, but were rebuffed along with everyone else by the Nets in favor of negotiations with Oklahoma City, and those talks got intense before breaking down.
As Dempsey notes, the Thunder were willing to part with Kendrick Perkins' expiring contract, Jeremy Lamb (a role player prospect), and Grant Jerrett (an underwhelming power forward prospect). While those names are not very sexy, they do serve a purpose.
In texting with the great Tom Lorenzo of Nets Daily today, he suggested the Nets are looking for the following, and how that applies to the Nuggets:
I'm sure they'd "have to" take on [JaVale] McGee to make this work. But since his contract isn't expiring, they'd probably want to make sure they get a 1st round pick, and something else. They're looking to get picks/younger and clear space for 2016. So taking on money beyond next year isn't something they'd want to do.
(Shouldn't that text from Lorenzo be from the Nuggets' point of view: i.e. looking to get picks/younger?)
And taking on money is something the Nuggets would have to do to absorb Lopez's deal. Perhaps the Nuggets can get creative near the trade deadline to pull off a deal, maybe even a three team deal to get something done, and make all the salary work. But three team deals are very complicated, but they can be navigated and completed.
Lopez has had a pretty nice January, he's averaging 26 minutes, 15.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. And as Dempsey pointed out, that comes to 20.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, not bad for a guy who can play with his back to the basket, and command double teams.
And playing Lopez less minutes could be a real thing in Denver with Jusuf Nurkic developing. Would the duo work? Would Nurkic's development be stunted? Could you afford to pay Lopez a ton of money and not play him a ton? Perhaps a change of scenery would do Lopez good and Denver can be an ideal fit for change. Lopez and Danilo Gallinari share a similar link, both are represented by the Wasserman Media Group's Arn Tellem - same goes for JaVale McGee - perhaps the two could team up in Denver.
Lopez is owed part of his $15.7 million contract for this season, and has a player option for around $16.7 million for next season. He won't turn 27 years-old until April 1st, and might have a lot of good years left. Lopez also might be injured for large chunks of the remainder of his NBA career, and be another tale of: What could have been ...
What would your thoughts be if you awoke to this trade?
On top of McGee and Gary Harris, the Nuggets might be forced to surrender a first round pick in a trade with the Nets. Is that too steep a price for a guy with so many question marks? Giving up on a guy like Harris could come back to haunt the Nuggets. And who knows about the first round pick, if it came to that. But looking over Denver's roster, it's pretty easy to see who the Nets would likely be asking for.
It's all about weighing the risks. Has Lopez used up all his potential? It'd be nice to see the Nuggets take the gamble on Lopez, but you have to give up something to get something, and that's what the Nuggets front office must wrestle with.