After multiple surgeries this past year, the health of center Brook Lopez has been a major storyline for the Brooklyn Nets. It would appear that he is progressing nicely, however, as his recent comments indicate.
"(The leg's) doing great," Lopez said in an interview during a tour of Russia with his brother, Robin (hat tip to Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game for the video find).
"I was fully cleared for play and everything about a week and a half ago now. It's doing great. Now i just need to get back in shape."
Here's the interview in question (scroll to the 2:10 mark).
Lopez will again be one of the key figures for a Nets team with playoff aspirations this season. In 17 games last season he was averaging 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. In the past five seasons, he's averaged at least 18 points per game.
Injuries have been a major issue, however. Lopez played just five games in the 2011-12 season and, as stated, only appeared 17 times for the Nets last season. When healthy, he's one of the better centers in the league, but staying on the court has become a major issue in the past three years.
New coach Lionel Hollins made a point to note Lopez's importance when he was hired in early July, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
Hollins:It's been a long process to get back to the NBA & this is a great fit for me.I'm also looking forward to working with the nucleus...— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 2, 2014
New Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins continued: "the nucleus of Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 2, 2014
If Lopez can stay healthy, the Nets should be major players in a wide-open Eastern Conference now that LeBron James has returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, shaking things up, while Paul George is all but assuredly out for the season for the Indiana Pacers.
Along with the return of Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls, the return of Lopez should make the East far more competitive this season. The big center is in his prime and has the chance to really post big numbers this season if he can stay healthy.
Thus far, it appears his recovery is coming along nicely.