Can Brooklyn Nets Consider Brook Lopez a Building Block Anymore?

Frank CesareContributor IIJanuary 17, 2014

Brook Lopez led the Brooklyn Nets in scoring with 20.7 PPG prior to his season-ending injury.
Brook Lopez led the Brooklyn Nets in scoring with 20.7 PPG prior to his season-ending injury.Danny Johnston/Associated Press

Brook Lopez is an elite post scorer, but his impact over the long-haul is questionable due to his chronic foot problems.

He's had three surgeries on his right foot, and has broken it twice since entering the NBA

According to Brian Windhorst of, in regards to the surgery Lopez underwent on Jan. 4,

In addition to fixing the break, part of the procedure was what is known as a first metatarsal osteotomy. Essentially, doctors moved bones around in Lopez's foot to better bear the weight. It's taking a human appendage that was not truly meant to carry a 7-foot body that runs miles every day and redesigning it.

Windhorst also noted two former NBA players that underwent a similar restructuring, Yao Ming and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Depending upon his recovery, Lopez's career could follow one of those trajectories.


Big Z or Yao

In terms of longevity post-foot-restructuring, the Brooklyn Nets would prefer to see Lopez make an Ilgauskas-like recovery. Big Z was able to play at least 60 games for another 10 seasons, and averaged at least 14 points five times over those 10 years. 

Yao Ming on the other hand, lasted only five games after returning from his procedure and re-injured his left foot.

Brooklyn won't know what to expect for quite some time. Nets general manager Billy King had the following to say, via's Brian Windhorst

He had surgery. It was successful. And then he'll recover and be back playing. We can sit here and say, 'last-ditch effort' or whatever, he had surgery. They said it's gonna be a successful recovery, so I mean, we can't sit here today on Jan. 4 and say what's gonna happen when he starts playing again. We can't speculate on that, and I'm not gonna do that.

It's probably a toss up at the moment, whether or not Lopez recovers like Ilgauskas or falters like Yao, but is it in the Nets' best interest to await that coin flip?

Especially when Deron Williams has his own foot problems as well.


Quit While You're Ahead

Lopez is in the second year of a reasonable four-year, $60 million deal.

While Brooklyn can afford to take the chance on Lopez from a financial perspective, its future has been mortgaged, and the last thing the Nets need is another injury-prone player going through the motions until the unfortunate occurs. 

Because Lopez is 25-years-old and only under contract for two more years, Billy King has a decent chance at trading the center and receiving fair value.

A team like the Phoenix Suns—whom possess draft picks and talented young players—may be willing to take the gamble. If the Nets could receive a couple of prospects like Alex Len, Archie Goodwin or perhaps Miles Plumlee, in addition to a draft pick or two, Brooklyn's future could become less bleak and maybe even promising. 

Lopez could eventually return to the court and score as effortlessly as he did this season—when he shot 56.3 percent from the field—but the Nets aren't built for the downside to that risk. If Lopez re-injures his foot in the future, his trade value will be far lower than it is today. 

Unfortunately, despite his talent, Brooklyn at the moment cannot look at Brook Lopez as a building block.