Should the Nets Trade Brook Lopez?


Jose Luis Villegas

Brook Lopez remains a productive center for teams in need of one. However, it is time for the Brooklyn Nets to move away from him. (Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas / Sacramento Bee via TNS)


With the trade deadline looming, the Brooklyn Nets are looking to relieve themselves of Brook Lopez’s contract, worth $16.7 million in 2016. Despite struggling on defense over the past two seasons, Lopez still has trade value as a center capable of playing at an All-Star level on the offensive end of the court. Just over a month after owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced he would sell the team, the Nets must rebuild to appeal to potential suitors. Ridding themselves of maximum contracts and costly stars, such as Lopez, should be the first step of that process. 

Due to having career highs in both points per game and field goal percentage two seasons ago, Lopez should attract teams in need of a star player. One team that has been rumored to have interest in the All-Star center is the Denver Nuggets. ESPN reported the Nuggets offered young stars JJ Hickson and JaVale McGee in addition to a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Though they should pursue a trade involving more draft picks, this has been the best offer the Nets have received thus far. Alex DiMisa, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ‘18, an avid basketball fan, agrees. “The Nets need to rebuild by freeing up salary cap space and acquiring more draft picks. That starts with trading Brook Lopez.” If Prokhorov is looking to sell the team before next season, it would be in his best interest to free up as much cap space as possible in addition to adding younger stars. The Nuggets offer allows the Nets to acquire two productive, upcoming players at a cheaper price while adding a first round pick for the new owner. 

With the race for the playoffs heating up and the trade deadline quickly approaching, the decision regarding Brook Lopez must come swiftly. The Denver Nuggets’ trade should have been accepted upon being offered. JJ Hickson and JaVale McGee can fill the void left by Lopez while adding youth to an aging roster. With the team currently spending $13 million over the allowed team salary, the Nets need to create cap space for the upcoming offseason and the trade would accomplish that goal. With Kevin Garnett contemplating retirement after the season and new ownership ready to take over, Brooklyn will be looking to spend big this offseason. 

At this point it is clear Lopez creates more troubles than benefits. His whopping $16.7 million salary will consume more than a quarter of the Brooklyn’s allowed cap space. In addition to depleting much needed funds for free agents, Lopez’s production has also been declining. He only appeared in 17 games in the 2013-2014 season and was benched earlier this season in favor of Mason Plumlee. This season, Lopez is averaging career lows in minutes played per game and points per game. Despite having a career year two seasons ago, it is clear that Lopez is declining in production, especially in the Nets’ present situation.

The current NBA playoff standings place Brooklyn on the outside looking in. This is a familiar position for a Nets team that has only made the playoffs twice in the last seven years and has had seven different head coaches in that time span. New ownership may want to start fresh again with their own head coach and general manager, so providing a young roster and a handful of draft picks will be crucial for Prokhorov as he looks to sell the team. The Nets need to start the rebuilding process for the 2015-2016 season and that begins with ridding themselves of large contracts for declining talents like Brook Lopez.