After missing most of the NBA’s 2013-14 season, All-Star Center Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets has been cleared to play. The 7 foot Lopez, who recently visited Russia together with his twin brother Robin, told a reporter from RBC, that he has been “fully cleared to play and everything a week and a half ago”. Lopez added that “it’s time to get in shape.”
The Lopez siblings spent a weekend in Moscow by having lunch with Nets’ principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov and giving a basketball clinic to children at the US Embassy.
Season Ending Injury
The 26 year old Stanford standout suffered a season-ending foot injury last December 20. Lopez underwent reconstructive foot surgery last January 4th to repair the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. Then on March 3rd, Lopez had a torn tendon in his left knee repaired and “tightened.”
Early in his recovery, Lopez said that he had to “learn to re-walk using customized shoes and sneakers. But his rehab has been so far successful, and Nets’ officials are “cautiously optimistic” about his return. Nets GM Billy King last week told media that Lopez is “doing great”, confirming earlier reports that Lopez is ahead of schedule. Lopez had started doing shooting drills and workouts prior to his medical clearance.
Lopez was in All-Star shape last season before suffering the injury. In the 17 games which he played, he averaged 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Lopez also shot 56.3% from the field and 81.7% from the foul line. Lopez played in his first ever NBA All Star game during the 2012-13 season when he was named as Rajon Rondo’s replacement after the Celtics guard suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Lopez did not miss a single regular season game during the first three years of his NBA career. But during the lockout shortened 2011-12 season, he played just 5 games due to a similar injury in his right foot. After signing a four year $61M extension in the 2012 offseason, Lopez returned to play 74 games for the Nets in the 2012-13.
It would be interesting to find out how new coach Lionel Hollins would play Lopez in the Nets offense considering the success the team had last season playing “small ball” when he was injured. The Nets were just 7-10 with Lopez in the line-up and 37-28 without him, as the Nets finished the season strong to land the 5th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets were eliminated by the Miami Heat in 6 games during the second round of the Playoffs.