NBA AM: Boosting Brook Lopez’s Trade Value
Keep An Eye On Brook Lopez: While the Orlando Magic‘s top brass continue to apply the brakes on any talks revolving around dealing star center Dwight Howard, the chatter will undoubtedly continue, and more than likely intensify as we near the trade deadline (March 15).
One of Howard’s rumored preferred franchises is the New Jersey Nets, who will soon make the move to Brooklyn.
The Nets have long been rumored as willing to part ways with their own big man in the middle, Brook Lopez, if it meant they had an opportunity to secure Howard’s services long term. The Magic have given a great deal of thought to a move involving Lopez, but when he went down with a broken bone in his right foot and spent the first two months of the season on the shelf, the rumor mill on this deal cooled tremendously.
Get ready for them to pick right up where they left off.
In his first two starts after returning from the injury, Lopez averaged just 12 points and 3 rebounds on a subpar 39 percent shooting clip.
Then Lopez, playing in just his third contest of the 2012 campaign, exploded for 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting from the field on Tuesday night versus the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The former Stanford University product also grabbed six rebounds in his 36 minutes of court action.
“We kind of took the handcuffs off him. We weren’t putting him on a minute restriction,” Nets head coach Avery Johnson told the assembled press after the Nets’ victory Tuesday night. “He got a pretty good rest over the [All-Star] break, and we kept feeding him.”
All-Star point guard Deron Williams echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“He was a monster tonight,” Williams said. “He carried us from the start of the game and it makes a difference, I’ve said it all season. … He knows how to play the game and we’re glad to have him back.”
If Lopez keeps his game at a high level and proves he’s completely healthy, his stock will continue rising as we approach the trade deadline since quality centers run at a premium in today’s game.
Lopez averaged 20 points per game in 2011, proving he’s more than a capable presence on the interior.
The pressure is on in Orlando, and decisions must be made; trade Howard before the upcoming deadline and receive young talent and draft picks needed to start the rebuilding process, or risk losing the All-Star for nothing at all this summer if Howard decides to exercise his early termination option.
The Nets currently have plenty of cap space to work with, sitting at $34 million in salary commitments for 2013. The team also faces its own personnel decision as it relates to Williams’ future with the organization. Williams has a player option he’ll likely exercise this summer and hasn’t fully committed to the idea of remaining with the Nets long-term.
One area most in the now agree on is Howard isn’t likely to head to the Nets if Williams isn’t there – and vice versa.
Lopez could ultimately be the domino chip which leads to a Howard-Williams one-two combination tearing up the league next season – with the Nets.
Securing Howard now, before the trade deadline passes, would also provide strong leverage in retaining Williams since his hometown Dallas Mavericks are also expected to make an aggressive pitch for him in free agency.
The Nets’ next three games will give Lopez even more of an opportunity to boost his stock around the league as Boston, Charlotte and Miami loom. All three of those squads have had their share of question marks on the interior this season.
If the Nets keep feeding Lopez as Johnson stated, the production will continue to be gaudy.
But will it be enough to entice Orlando’s front office to make a move?
Andrew Bynum Says Knee Is Good To Go: Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum was limited to less than ten minutes of game action in Sunday’s All-Star contest – his first appearance.
Bynum received an injection of Synvisc, a lubricant, into his problematic right knee last Friday.
Naturally, any news concerning Bynum’s knees causes varying degrees of panic amongst Lakers fans.
The 24 year old hasn’t played in more than 65 contests in any season since 2007 due to an assortment of injuries.
However, the seven year veteran set the record straight on Tuesday saying he’ll be ready to go without any type of limitations for Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I’m all good,” Bynum told Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles. “It was bothering me specifically after the OKC game [February 23]. I took a little bit of contact in it. That’s when it was really bad. Actually when I sit down for a long period of time and have my knee in one position, it feels a lot better because it’s got lube in it. But, as far as just walking around and stuff, I really feel it (improved) in about three or four days.”
Bynum is third on the Lakers in scoring behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, but leads the team in rebounds per night at 12.8.
The Lakers find themselves in the unfamiliar position, at this juncture of the season, trailing their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division by one game.
A healthy Bynum will be needed if the Lakers hope to erase the sting of last season’s disappointing end (second playoff sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks).
Can Jimmer Fredette Make The Pro Adjustment? Transitioning from a collegiate star to seldom used NBA role player on a struggling team is a mental adjustment most guys struggle to make without sulking or losing confidence.
Such is the position Sacramento Kings rookie guard Jimmer Fredette finds himself in after tearing up the NCAA during a standout career at BYU and now adjusting to life without the ball on a lottery bound team.
“He’s making a gigantic adjustment,” Kings head coach Keith Smart told Steve Yingling of the Deseret News. “People have to understand that’s what he’s making. He went from a guy who had the ball in his hands and could shoot the ball as many times as he wanted, to now, where he has to blend in with everyone else. He’s going through what a lot of rookies have gone through.”
Known for his ability to hit long range shots with high efficiency, Fredette is shooting just 38 percent from the field in his first thirty games as a pro.
“I’m trying to get better every single game,” Fredette said. “It’s an adjustment. How I played last year and everything, I knew it would be. My objective was to come in and do whatever it was to help the team get wins.”
Fredette does appear to be getting better, at least from an offensive standpoint.
In nine February contests, the rookie is shooting 42 percent from the floor, although his minutes per night have significantly decreased during the month.
“I think everyone can’t put pressure on him to perform at the level he just came out of college performing. It’s going to be an adjustment in the NBA, and he’s going to get better,” Smart said.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on the schedule today. Kicking things off will be salary cap guru Larry Coon who will host his chat starting at 3pm EST. Submit a question for Larry here. Next up, I will be hosting my weekly chat at 8pm EST. Feel free to drop me a line on anything NBA related. You can always find our upcoming chats HERE.