EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Nets center Brook Lopez, who has missed the last eight games with a strained lower back, returned to practice Monday and immediately tried to make a case for returning to the lineup in Tuesday night's home game against the Nuggets. But that wasn't the only thing that the 7-foot Lopez, a noted comic book and science fiction fan, lobbied for.
"I really would like to get a part, like a walk-on part, in the next 'Star Wars' movie,'' Lopez announced to reporters. "I'd like to be a Wookiee. They don't need my ugly face in there, they don't need me acting. I'm not going to blow anything, guys. Come on, Mr. [George] Lucas, I just want to be in the movie.''
Lopez is a huge fan of the "Star Wars'' franchise, and he said he got chills when he saw the Millennium Falcon spaceship in the trailer of the new movie, "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.'' At his height, Lopez thinks he'd be a natural to play a Wookiee, the tall, hairy, intelligent creatures whose hero, Chewbacca, is the sidekick of swashbuckling smuggler Han Solo.
Lopez said when he found out a new set of "Star Wars'' movies were going to be made, he asked his agent to see if he could get a part in one of the movies. "The Force Awakens,'' which is set to be released next December, already has finished shooting, but there no doubt will be additional movies after that.
As far as his basketball career is concerned, the oft-injured Lopez practiced fully Monday, doing some four-on-four half-court and full-court scrimmaging. Coach Lionel Hollins said Lopez's conditioning has suffered in his two weeks of inactivity and added that Lopez will "probably not'' play Tuesday night.
Hollins said, however, that whether Lopez is available will be a medical decision. Lopez said he will talk to the team's athletic trainer, Tim Walsh, to see if he can get cleared to play.
"I feel like I could play,'' said Lopez, who added that his back feels good. "I think it's worth it if I can even be on the floor. As long as it's no risk [of reinjury] and I can work my way back into it game by game, you know, I think I'd definitely get into it quicker by playing games and not just practicing and skipping games.''
If and when Lopez does return, Hollins will have to figure out if Lopez will start or come off the bench. Mason Plumlee has played well in Lopez's place.
Said Lopez with a grin, "I want to come in and take his spot.''
Notes & quotes: Deron Williams, a subject of rumored trade discussion with Sacramento, was not at practice. The team said the point guard had to go to the dentist. Hollins said he doesn't expect Williams (strained right calf) to be available for Tuesday night's game.