Lopez Listed As Probable Against Pistons, Return Imminent

Josh Newman, SNYNets.com

Brook Lopez 2After 16 frustrating days of waiting, it appears the Nets will get their starting center back either Friday or Saturday.

The team announced on Friday morning that Brook Lopez, who has missed the last seven games with a sprained right foot, is probable for the team’s game on Friday night against the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center. In Lopez’s absence, the Nets are 2-5, which includes a five-game losing streak that was snapped with a 94-88 win at the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday evening.

At shootaround on Friday morning, head coach Avery Johnson said there is a chance Lopez does not play Friday and if that is the case, a comeback on Saturday at the Chicago Bulls appears to be a certainty. Johnson indicated Lopez will not play both ends of the back-to-back.

Lopez agreed with that sentiment, while Johnson went on to say his 7-footer, who re-signed for four years and close to $61 million in the offseason, would not play more than 24 minutes at first whenever he returns.

Lopez initially injured himself on Nov. 28 at the Boston Celtics and was almost immediately ruled for out for games at the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Team Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Riley Williams III, called it a ligament sprain of the mid-foot and that this injury was unrelated to the fractured right foot that cost Lopez all but five games during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

Upon the team’s return to New York after the two-game Florida swing, Lopez was re-examined and deemed day-to-day. The Nets lost home games to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks while Lopez was on the mend.

Johnson was adamant that Lopez needed to go through a full practice before being cleared to play, and that did not happen until Monday, the day before the Knicks game.

He was listed as a game-time decision against the Knicks, but was deemed not yet ready for the Knicks, nor the Raptors due to what was called a lack of conditioning, as well as his own confidence issues with the foot.

With this latest injury, Lopez has now injured the same foot three times inside the last year.

Lopez did not travel with the team to Toronto Tuesday night, received treatment on Wednesday and worked out with the team on Thursday in the form of playing 3-on-3.

Without Lopez, the team’s defense has struggled, specifically on the interior. Additionally, Andray Blatche has started in Lopez’s place and while he has flourished in that starting role, the second unit Blatche left behind has been a bit of a mess.

For the season, Lopez is averaging 18.5 and 6.8 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game. A decrease in his minutes to 24 as Johnson plans to do is not that much of a slide.

Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA