NBA Trade Rumors: Brook Lopez Injury Spells Doom for Dwight Howard Deal

John FrielAnalyst IDecember 22, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 13:  Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets dribbles against Glen Davis #11 of The Boston Celtics during their game on January 13th, 2010 at The Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Photo By Al Bello/Getty Images  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic ownership must have seen the future, because they are looking rather wise right now after the latest news from the Brook Lopez camp.

A key piece in the trade that would send Dwight Howard to the New Jersey Nets, Lopez will be out four to six weeks in order to recover from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. The Nets center was dealt the injury in their preseason game against the New York Knicks.

Before we get on to the topic of this injury and how it affects the possible deal, I need to ask, why do these players go all out in a meaningless preseason game?

I get that the lockout shortened the preseason schedule and that coaches are using this time to basically give their first and second units time to get back into the pace of an NBA game, but there's no reason why Kobe Bryant should have a torn ligament in his wrist, nor should Lopez be out until February.

Anyway, let's get back to this injury. This will be the first time in his career that Lopez will have to sit out a game, as he had played in all 82 games in his first three NBA seasons. For a center to go that long without missing a game is an extraordinary feat when considering that the majority of the athletes who play at that position are much more prone to getting injured.

Lopez decided to break that trend by getting himself injured and now is forced to the sideline for up to six weeks. The New Jersey Nets are already severely lacking in the scoring department outside of Deron Williams, which means that we will see this team significantly struggle to get points on the board.

Considering that Lopez's current backup is Johan Petro, it's easy to say that this is going to be a long six weeks.

With teammates like Anthony Morrow, Shawne Williams and Marshon Brooks set to pick up the scoring load, the Nets can only hope that they can get scoring from an unexpected source. Deron Williams will become a free agent next season and with many teams set to pursue him, the Nets want to do whatever it takes to convince him to stick around for a few years.

What was supposed to entice Deron into staying in New Jersey was the prospect of trading for Dwight Howard, a deal that should have happened already if not for the intervention of the Magic ownership denying the trade from happening. The Nets would lose a few pieces, but Howard teaming up with a stellar point guard like Deron Williams would easily rival that of the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin duo.

Howard has played with the Magic since 2004 and has recently come out demanding a trade to the Nets after a few months worth of speculation that he would leave.

Dwight's still adamant about departing from Orlando, but the Nets might have just shot themselves in the foot with this injury to Lopez, who was the biggest piece in the deal to obtain Dwight.

Now that Lopez is hurt, the deal is off. Other interested teams in Howard's services (L.A. Lakers, Dallas and Chicago) will be able to make enticing offers, while all the Nets can do is idly wait for their high-scoring center to make his eventual recovery.

Luckily for them, the recovery time has Lopez returning in February, a month before the trade deadline.

Even then, the Magic still might not want to trade for a center that's just coming off a surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. An injury to anywhere below the belt to a center is absolutely devastating; injuring a foot is just as serious as hurting a knee.

With other teams set to offer plenty more than the Nets can, Orlando may just want to ship Dwight off to a team where they get healthy players in return.

Truly a devastating injury to the Nets. Even though Lopez isn't the intimidating post figure that they'd like him to be, the 20 points per game he would put up per night would have been huge for a team that's lacking greatly on offense. With no Lopez, the team will have to heavily rely on Deron Williams and the cast of unproven players.

Deron Williams doesn't want to carry a team just so he can miss out on the postseason. Without Lopez, the Nets aren't anywhere near a postseason appearance in a conference where a number of young teams are on the rise, especially in their division with Philadelphia and New York improving.

For now, the deal between the Nets and Magic is dead. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say a deal involving Dwight Howard would be dead.