Brook Lopez won’t be making his return to the lineup Tuesday and there’s a possibility the Nets’ starting center may not play in a game until next week.
General manager Billy King said although Lopez practiced without incident Monday for the first time since spraining a ligament at the top of his right foot Nov. 28, he’s still not good enough to suit up for their tilt with the Knicks at the Barclays Center.
“The goal is to get him back where he’s comfortable,” King said as the Nets were wrapping up their shootaround. “[For] yesterday being his first five-on-five in about two weeks, he felt good. Today, he felt pretty good, but he’s just not ready to partake in an NBA game. So, we are going to pull him out tonight. “
King said Lopez didn’t experience any unforeseen issues, though.
“It’s not a setback,” he said. “It’s such a long year, you want to make sure mentally that he’s ready to go play an NBA game. Yesterday being his first time in five-on-five, the pace of practice is a lot different than the pace of a game. So we don’t want to rush him.
“We want him to be 100 percent confident when he goes on the court.”
King reiterated that conditioning factored into the decision.
“He was sucking a lot of wind yesterday and I think that’s a part of it too,” King said. “You don’t want to put him out there if he’s not, conditioning-wise, ready to play. “
He added: “I think it’s all one package. If you play any sport, when you are out for a while, it takes you time to get your whole body ready to play a whole NBA game. Mentally, you could be thinking, ‘Ok, I’m ready to go.’ And just conditioning-wise, you are not ready, So that’s where it is, him getting to the point where he’s ready to play basketball.”
Deron Williams thinks it’s best to get the Nets’ big man completely healthy prior to trotting him out again. After all, this is the third injury Lopez has suffered to his right foot in 11 months and he missed all but six games in last season’s lockout-shortened campaign.
“We’ve missed him for the last five games and we just want him to take his time and get back healthy,” Williams said. “We need him for the long haul, so whenever he’s ready to come back, that’s when we can use him. But as of right now, we have got to have other guys step up,. We can’t use that as excuse, [that] just because we have him out, that we don’t have a chance to win this game.”