Brook Lopez has struggled to provide the level of defense that Nets head coach Lionel Hollins desires, and that, along with the fact that the Nets have gotten off to a slower-than-expected start to the season, has Brooklyn willing to blow things up entirely, and trade one or more of the team’s high-priced stars — if the offer is right.
Lopez has value in trade, because he’s still capable of playing at an All-Star level on the offensive end of the floor at times. But the combination of his contract (Lopez holds a player option for $16.7 million next season) and his history of injury has teams unwilling to come up with reasonable trade scenarios thus far.
The Nuggets are the latest team to try, only to be shot down.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Denver, I’m told, has been pushing an offer of J.J. Hickson/JaVale McGee for B-Lopez. Nets have so far been firm in their refusal to take it
Tonight’s Brook Lopez performance helps explain why Nets, even though they’ve seriously discussed trading him, feel they can’t give him away
The performance being referred to is Lopez putting up 35 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots in 41 minutes (off the bench!) in Friday’s overtime loss to the Raptors.
But in the three games before that, Lopez managed to score just 18, six, and four points, respectively.
Hickson and McGee for Lopez would match from a salary perspective, but wouldn’t necessarily make Brooklyn any better. And, while Hickson as a role player for $5.6 million next season is palatable, McGee at $12 million is not.
Brooklyn will remain willing to trade Lopez (or Deron Williams, or Joe Johnson) if the players that come back can be part of a positive roster rebuild, or will come off the books to help create some salary cap space. But it seems clear at this point that the Nets want talent back in exchange for these guys; whether or not that will still be the case as we get closer to the Feb. 19 trade deadline remains to be seen.