A disappointing first third of the season just got much worse for the underachieving Brooklyn Nets as center Brook Lopez will miss the rest of the season after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. (h/t ESPN.com)
It’s the same injury that limited Lopez to just six games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and the same foot in which he had to have a surgical screw replaced over the summer.
The Nets said Lopez’s status will be update next week after he consults with team doctors.
Lopez was hurt during the second half Friday night in the Nets’ 121-120 overtime loss at Philadelphia. He played 44 minutes with the injury, getting 22 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-19 shooting. The bad news was discovered when he had post-game X-rays on his foot.
The Nets put together what they hoped would be a championship contender in the offseason, acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics and getting free-agent Andrei Kirilenko to take a deal that was far below his value for the opportunity to chase a title in Brooklyn.
But despite a league-high payroll of more than $101 million (and $80 million in luxury tax for being not just over the salary cap but so far past it that it’s not visible in the rear-view mirror), the Nets are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference at 9-17, two games behind the eighth-place Raptors and 2½ games in back of the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics.
Paul Pierce missed five games with a broken hand, Lopez had missed nine already with a sprained ankle, Deron Williams sat out 11 games with an ankle injury, Jason Terry hasn’t in a month with a bruised knee and back problems have limited Kirilenko to just four games and 53 minutes.
Lopez is Brooklyn’s leading scorer at 20.7 points per game and is second on the club with six rebounds a night. He is also their only shot-blocker—his 1.8 blocks per game is more than a full blocked shot per game better than Garnett’s 0.7.
He was shooting 56.3 percent from the floor and 81.7 percent from the line and his 25.7 player efficiency rating was seventh-best in the NBA and ranked second among centers, trailing only DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.
It’s another body blow for a team that looking like it might struggle to make the playoffs with Lopez.
The immediate thought that springs to mind is that the injury might throw Brooklyn into the Omer Asik trade talks, but because of cap considerations, the Nets have limited flexibility—and no first-round picks, more importantly, having dealt their 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-rounders to Boston in the deal for Garnett and Pierce—with which to make a trade.