Brook Lopez Free Agency Rumors: Latest Rumors on Brooklyn Nets and More

Alex KayCorrespondent IJune 28, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 03:  Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets reacts against the Miami Heat at the Prudential Center on April 3, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.The Heat defeated the Nets 108-94.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 Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Brook Lopez is one of the better restricted free agents available this summer, but it’s going to be tough for another team to steal him away from the Brooklyn Nets.

The 24-year-old center had an injury-plagued 2011-12 campaign in which he only participated in five games, but he should be healthy and ready to go for the upcoming season.

As a legit seven-footer, the former Stanford standout will have no shortage of suitors, even though he has a career average of just 7.5 rebounds per game and averaged just 6.0 over 82 games in the 2010-11 season.

He’s still one of the most skilled scorers in the post and is only getting better in that area, as was evident in his 20.4 PPG that year.

Let’s take a look at the latest rumors and rumblings about what Brook Lopez’s future may hold.

Update: Thursday, July 12 -- Joel C. Cordes

The Dwight Howard chase is over for the Brooklyn Nets as they have re-signed Brook Lopez to a max contract:

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Brook Lopez has signed his four-year, $61 million deal with the Nets, taking him off the trade market until Jan. 15, league sources say.

— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2012

Lopez may not be traded until 2013, and the deal is large enough that he's unlikely to be a realistic trade chip any longer. He will be the starting center for the new-look Nets.

Update 2: Wednesday, July 11 -- Joel C. Cordes

Multiple sources are reporting that the Brooklyn Nets have sent a final ultimatum to the Orlando Magic. To paraphrase, "either trade Dwight Howard to us today, or we're walking."

Source: Nets will "resolve" their pursuit of DH today; either get him or move on.

— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) July 11, 2012

ESPN is reporting that Nets GM Billy King is meeting with Brook Lopez, their restricted free agent center, today. They'll either sign him to stay or be dealt to Orlando, but he's getting a contract either way.

Following up on @RicBucher report: Nets have told Magic if there's a Dwight Howard deal, must be done by end of business day

— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) July 11, 2012

The Nets do not want Lopez to receive any outside offers, as that would finally foil their Howard plan: If they let Lopez walk, they don't have the assets to acquire Dwight. If they match a max deal for Lopez, then the parameters and timing of the contract may not be palatable to Orlando.

Why hadn't an outside team thought of and implemented this sabotage yet? Presumably because they didn't want to actually get stuck with Lopez on a max deal.

Either way, the Dwight Howard and Brooklyn Nets situation is (finally) moving to a head. If this falls through, then the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks will remain in the conversation.

- Content for this update provided by Bleacher Report's Offseason Trade Rumors tracker.

Update: Wednesday, July 11 -- Joel C. Cordes

Either they're backing the Orlando Magic into a corner, or they're simply ready to walk away. Either way, the Nets are closing in on a max contract with restricted free agent Brook Lopez:

Y! Sources: As time's running out on a Howard deal for Brooklyn, Brook Lopez nears agreement on max contract with Nets. tinyurl.com/86tgnwf

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2012

The Nets have maintained that the 11th was their date for moving on, as they don't want to let other free agent opportunities pass them by while waiting for the Orlando Magic.

More importantly, unless this Lopez contract is an immediate precursor to a sign-and-trade, it will take Brooklyn out of the Dwight Howard running for good:

If Brook Lopez signs the reported maximum contract offer with the Brooklyn Nets he can NOT be traded until December for Dwight Howard. #NBA

— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 11, 2012

Even if Dwight were to wait until free agency next summer, he would have difficulty signing with the capped-out Nets. They would have to move Brook Lopez and or other contracts in order to bring him aboard.

Time is running out. It appears the Magic have 24 hours or less to deal with Brooklyn or let the opportunity pass them by.

Update: Sunday, July 8 — Joel C. Cordes

Brook Lopez and the Brooklyn Nets are finally moving to the bargaining table, reports Yahoo's Adrian Wajnorowski:

Brooklyn's started talks with RFA Brook Lopez on extension, sources tell Y! Could be to stay with Nets or used in sign-and-trade with Magic.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 8, 2012

As discussed below, the Nets appear to have set July 11 as their cut-off date for the Dwight Howard saga. There might not actually be any movement on the Howard front, but this could simply be the Nets' signal that time is marching on, with or without the Orlando Magic...

Update: Saturday, July 7 — Joel C. Cordes

Brook Lopez goes as Dwight Howard goes, but that time may be coming to an end. The Brooklyn Nets center is a restricted free agent, but has yet to receive an offer from the Nets, or anyone else for that matter, until the Howard saga is finished.

The Orlando Magic have repeatedly balked at Brooklyn's overtures (in detail below), and the Nets are beginning to intimate that the clock is ticking. According to Yahoo's Marc Spears, Brooklyn is preparing to move on without Howard:

Nets have "30 percent chance" of landing Dwight in trade but likely would turn attention to FAs if it cant be done in a week,source tells Y!

— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 7, 2012

With the free agents actually being able to sign on July 11, the Nets don't want to wait around on Howard forever, and then risk not having any fallback options. 

With their current cap situation, the Nets will not be able to go after established big men like Roy Hibbert or Chris Kaman, and their logical move would be to re-sign Brook Lopez. While Lopez has slightly disappointed the past two seasons, his development could take a leap now that he won't have to shoulder so much of the team's talent burden.

 Update: Wednesday, July 4 — Ethan Norof

Now that Deron Williams has re-signed with the team, the Nets' "next priority" is getting a new deal done with Lopez, tweets David Aldridge.

With Williams done, the Nets' next priority is re-signing Brook Lopez, according to a league source. Team also hopes to keep Kris Humphries.

— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2012

Lopez's game gets a lot of criticism, but it will certainly be interesting to see what he can do in this lineup now that he'll be healthy and surrounded by a much more talented group of players. 

UPDATE: Tuesday, July 3 -- Joel C. Cordes

With the Brooklyn Nets and Joe Johnson trade consummated, there was much talk that Dwight Howard would be unable to join Deron Williams and Co. due to salary cap constraints.

Lopez's name had yet to surface in any trade scenarios, though he was a logical addition if the Orlando Magic were to deal with the Atlanta Hawks.

Today, however, a creative sign-and-trade deal is possible if Brooklyn can retain its most attractive free agents for the swap. It appears that proposals for such a deal are in the works as we speak:

Sources: The Nets & Magic are discussing a trade that would send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez, Kris Humphies, MarShon Brooks...

— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2012

However, the Magic are apparently also interested in multiple first-round draft picks from the Nets, and this may be prompting Brooklyn GM Billy King to search for other ways to sweeten the pot: 

For Nets-Magic to progress on a Dwight Howard deal, a 3rd team needed to take Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade, league source tells Y!

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2012

It's entirely possible that Brook Lopez could be sent to a third or fourth team as well, considering that the Magic are apparently still not interested in what the Nets have to offer. Orlando might be able to find a big man or additional piece that's more attractive to the Magic if it can swap Lopez elsewhere.

If the Dwight Howard trade scenario fizzles out once more, then Brook Lopez should remain the Nets' starting center alongside Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks and/or Kris Humphries.

Update: Monday, July 2 — Joel C. Cordes

Brook Lopez has made his offseason feelings rather plain:

Brook Lopez made it very clear that he wants to stay with Nets. Said he hopes to be back on the basketball court within a month.

— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) April 27, 2012

While the franchise has reportedly tendered a qualifying offer to retain its restricted free agent, it's easy to wonder just what part he'll play going forward. 

Surely, the talented though injury-prone big man is a fallback option should the Nets fail to land Dwight Howard. Yet Lopez may also be one of the pieces used to acquire Howard in a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic.

The Nets are even busier still. Not only are they trying to retain free-agent point guard Deron Williams, but they're also reportedly pushing hard for Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks.

While Lopez's name hasn't arisen as a trade chip in that deal, the Hawks have long looked for a true center to pair alongside Al Horford or Josh Smith. Crafting a new deal for Lopez that was also palatable to Atlanta could help expedite the Joe Johnson trade.

Staying with Brooklyn Nets

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Nets GM Billy King has tendered the approximately $4.2 million qualifying offer to Lopez.

King says he tendered qualifying offer for Brook Lopez

— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) June 27, 2012

It’s unlikely that Lopez will sign right away, as he could potentially receive offers in free agency that the Nets would be forced to match if they wanted to retain his services.

However, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix found that execs around the league believe that Brooklyn will match any contract offer that Lopez receives, which makes him signing elsewhere this summer highly unlikely.

The only way Lopez will likely leave the Nets is if they trade him.

Potential Trade to Orlando Magic

The Nets are not giving up hope of pairing Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, even if it’s much less of a realistic goal than it was during the regular season.

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reports:

The Nets continue to hold out hope they can work out a trade for Howard in the coming days or even months, with restricted free agent Brook Lopez the presumed centerpiece of such a deal. But while Orlando will have many prime assets to tempt them in the coming days—including a draft pick-rich offer Houston is preparing to make, even without a long-term commitment from Howard—new GM Rob Hennigan might prefer to avoid making a hasty decision.

The Rockets can definitely make a better offer in the short term, but some shrewd offseason moves by Brooklyn could give them another shot at landing DH12, even if it means parting with Brook Lopez. 

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