GM: Nets not mulling prompt trade options
Brook Lopez is out for the remainder of the season, but general manager Billy King says the Brooklyn Nets plan to replace the All-Star center internally -- at least for now.
Lopez again fractured the fifth metatarsal of his surgically repaired right foot late in the fourth quarter of Friday night's 121-120 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers when he was fouled from behind by forward Thaddeus Young and fell to the floor.
"If there's a deal out there that we feel is going to make us a better team, we'll do it regardless of tax or the future, but we're not going to panic and do a move just to make a move because we feel we have to," King said Sunday. "I still believe in this group. Brook's a big part of it, but we do have other guys, that's why we have depth."
King said no move is expected on the trade front. He does not plan to be a "seller" at this time.
The Nets are in the process of applying to the NBA for a disabled player exception. They have until Jan. 15 to do so.
The ruling would help them acquire one player via free agency or trade to replace Lopez.
"Every team that has a big guy on the sideline calls to offer their services, but we had been in discussions with a lot of teams up to this point," King said. "There's not an imminent move, we're not looking to make any imminent move trade-wise. We've got 14 other guys that can step up, but we'll continue to discuss possibilities if it can make our team better."
Lopez will meet with Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Dr. Riley Williams on Monday for further evaluation. An X-ray taken following Friday night's game -- a game in which Lopez played through the injury -- confirmed the worst. It is not a career-ending injury, King said.
"I'm disappointed for Brook," King said. "As an organization, losing a player like that hurts, but mainly for Brook Lopez. He's been through a lot. I know Brook. He's going to do everything he can to be back on the court. We've gotta let him meet with the doctors and let him figure it out from there."
Lopez, 25, was averaging career-highs in points (20.7), field-goal percentage (56.3) and free-throw percentage (81.7) at the time of the injury. He ranked seventh in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating. The Nets (9-17) are 2-7 this season with Lopez out of the lineup.
Lopez originally fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in December of 2011 and had surgery to fix it. He had the screw that was put in his foot replaced this offseason because it had bent.
"It's been unfortunate, but the one thing I know about Brook is he'll do everything he can to get back," King said. "We're talking to a lot of different doctors, getting a lot of different opinions to make sure we're doing things right."
Lopez is in the second year of a four-year, $60 million max contract he signed in the summer of 2012.
He will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche or Reggie Evans. Andrei Kirilenko, who has missed 22 games due to back spasms, returned to practice Sunday and King says he'll be back in the lineup "soon." The Nets also have rookie Mason Plumlee as well. Guard Jason Terry, who has missed 15 games due to a knee injury, also practiced Sunday.
The Nets, who entered the season with a $190 million payroll and high expectations, have not met them thus far.
"We haven't played well," King said. "We haven't played up to our potential; injuries aside we've gotta play better. It's on all of us as an organization to do a better job."
Point guard Deron Williams (11 games) and small forward Paul Pierce (five games) have also missed significant time due to injury. Still, the Nets find themselves just two games back in the Atlantic Division standings.
"It's crazy," King said. "You can keep saying you're only two games back and keep being two games back and at the end of the year finish two games back. We need to start playing better."
King said the biggest thing the Nets need to improve on is rebounding. They rank 28th in the league in that category.
Shooting guard Joe Johnson said he was "devastated" when he heard the news.
"It just seems it's almost like we can't a break," Johnson said. "There's always something."
Johnson expects the Nets to have to play a more "uptempo" style with Lopez out.
"I just hate it for the big fella because I know he worked so hard and prepared himself for this season," Johnson said.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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