Sounds as though Lionel Hollins still doesn't plan on lightening the load of his starting center whenever he returns from his foot injury.
Speaking Thursday on ESPN New York Radio, the Nets coach maintained he won't limit Brook Lopez's time on the floor once his right mid-foot sprain has sufficiently healed. Lopez was diagnosed with the injury Oct. 16 and returned to the non-contact portion of practice earlier this week. He sat out Wednesday night's season-opening 121-105 loss to the Celtics in part because Hollins said he still was experiencing pain any time he tried to go hard.
The hope leading into the week was to have Lopez available either Saturday night against the Pistons or in Monday night's home opener against the Thunder. After Lopez is cleared to play, Hollins won't be reining him in.
"He was playing regular minutes in preseason,'' he said. " . . . So when he comes back, we'll continue to play him normal minutes, just like I expect to play KG normal minutes. There will be times in back-to-back games where I may have to play the bench a little longer . . . But we are just learning how to be together. We need floor time, we need playing, we need to learn each other, and this goes with that process.''
Judging by the Nets' season-opening performance in Boston, Lopez's return can't come soon enough. The Celtics exposed them on the interior, burning them for 62 points in the paint, and the Nets mostly fired away from the perimeter on offense.
"It would be nice to get Brook back and be an anchor in the middle,'' Hollins said. "[Wednesday] night, it got to the point where we didn't throw the ball inside at all to any big people. We tried to post up some of our wing people, but it's nice to have the big guy in there where they have to really come help and you get the ball out, move it around and you've got wide-open shots instead of contested shots.''
Bojan Bogdanovic was one of the players the Nets attempted to post on occasion, and the rookie had a relatively quiet debut. Starting at shooting guard, he posted seven points on 3 of 6 shooting in 26:05.
“There’s a lot of high expectations for him — I think maybe too high,” Hollins said. “What I see is a guy who has a lot of versatility who can do a lot of different things. But there’s still an adjustment period coming from Europe, even though he’s 25 years old. I have confidence in him because he is more mature, but still he’s learning the NBA game and seeing how much more physical it is, and how the rules are different. There’s a lot of good players in this league and because they’ve never played in the world championships or never played the Olympics doesn’t mean they are not really good and on a level that may be higher than most European players even expected.
“So you’ve get used to that as well and then the travel. It’s just something that he as a young player has to adapt to it. We hope his learning curve is very flat.”