The hits just keep coming for the Brooklyn Nets, who were feeling they were putting pieces together lately with players coming back from injuries. Brook Lopez broke his foot (not for the first time in his career), and will miss the rest of the season, making it even more difficult for the 9-17 team to think about making the playoffs.
Lopez played 44 minutes in the Nets’ last game (an overtime loss against the Philadelphia 76ers), resulting in a fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. He has already missed quite a few games this season due to injury, with the Nets going 2-7 without him. He also missed almost the entire 2011-2012 season due to a similar injury.
So what do the Nets do now? There’s the option of signing a player just to fill up the slot, but that doesn’t seem likely, as even a minimum deal for them costs quite a lot due to their excessive spending and being way over the luxury tax. Most likely, Kevin Garnett will move to the 5, which is actually good for him personally, while Andray Blatche, Mason Plumlee and Reggie Evans start getting more minutes in the frontcourt rotation.
This should especially hurt the Nets on offense. Lopez was averaging 20.7 points per game, and ranked 7th in the NBA when it comes to PER. It’s going to be quite impossible to find someone of his caliber via a trade, but it doesn’t mean they can tank. The Hawks have the right to swap first round picks in 2014 with the Nets, which means that Atlanta, a playoff team so far (3rd in the East) will get the lottery spot the Nets seem to be headed towards.
No one has mentioned tanking or getting rid of assets in New Jersey, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them start shopping around someone like Paul Pierce, who is probably still holding some trade value, and might help the Nets reduce part of their wage bill, while they try and bulk up on some draft picks or possibly some young players who can become valuable and meaningful in the future.