EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The immediate good news for the Nets Monday was that Brook Lopez returned to practice as the team did a light day of mostly noncontact work.
Whether Lopez will be able to participate fully in full contact work Tuesday, and whether he will be in the starting lineup when the Nets open the regular season in Boston Wednesday night, remains to be seen. But for now, Nets fans can exhale. Lopez's right foot, which has had two surgeries, is OK, and even if he doesn't make it back for Wednesday night, general manager Billy King said he'll shoot for Saturday, and if not then, they'll target Monday.
In other good news, Kevin Garnett is feeling better after a severe bout with illness after the preseason trip to China. He said he is more confident in his shot and looking for a bounce-back season after averaging career lows in points (6.5) and minutes (20.5).
"I feel good about this year, like I did last year,'' Garnett said. "I have a little bit of edge to me this year, I'll say that. I didn't like the way I ended last year, or even started last year, so I'm a very motivated person . . . I look to be a little different this year.''
Garnett understands that at 38, he isn't expected to be one of the team's focal points. Lopez, point guard Deron Williams and shooting guard Joe Johnson will be the primary offensive options. But Garnett will be expected to provide toughness and leadership and serve as a mentor to Lopez and Mason Plumlee.
Like everyone else, Garnett is counting on Lopez to be healthy. Lopez, who averaged 20.7 points in 17 games last season and 18.0 points in his six-year career, missed nine days with what the team called a mild mid-foot sprain.
Lopez admitted he did "feel it out there every now and again'' at practice Monday but insisted he is pleased with the progress of his recovery from his latest injury.
"I'd like to go Wednesday, but it's up to Timmy [Walsh],'' he said, referencing the Nets' trainer. "We'll see what he does.''
Williams was limited in practice because he was being rested, the Nets said.