EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Brook Lopez still hasn't returned to practice, but Nets coach Lionel Hollins remains confident that the 7-footer will be in the starting lineup for the season opener in Boston on Wednesday night.
In the event Lopez isn't ready to return after spraining his surgically repaired right foot, Hollins said the most likely option would be to move Kevin Garnett to center and start either Mirza Teletovic or Andrei Kirilenko at power forward.
He also could choose to leave Garnett at power forward and start Mason Plumlee at center. Hollins said there would be virtually no difference for Garnett.
"They're the same position," Hollins said Saturday. "They're mostly post-up players, can shoot outside, facing [the basket]. And they rebound and they defend."
Whatever Plan B ends up being, there's no arguing it would be a step down from Lopez, who averaged 19.7 points in 91 games during the last two seasons.
"We're probably not going to get as many post-up touches, deep-paint touches as we [usually] would," Deron Williams said of a Nets team without Lopez. "Our pick- and-roll game's a little different without Brook. He just means a lot to the team on both ends of the floor. He eats up a lot of space on the defensive end, he rebounds -- we're missing an All-Star."
In January, Lopez had a second surgery to repair the broken fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. On Oct. 17, the Nets announced he had sprained the foot in a preseason game.
Assuming Lopez isn't out for an extended period, Williams said he remains confident that the Nets -- who were 44-38 last season with Lopez playing only 17 games -- will be able to mix it up with the Bulls and Cavaliers and the rest of the big boys in the Eastern Conference.
"We have a ways to go, as far as jelling, coming together as a team, getting better," he said. "But you know, we feel like we have a chance to win. As long as we believe that, that's all that matters.
"Whatever the predictions are, whatever you guys are saying in the papers, all that doesn't matter, as long as we believe we can compete with anybody."
It will help if Williams himself is completely healthy. The 30-year-old point guard has battled an assortment of wrist, leg and ankle injuries during the last few seasons and has been playing with tape on his right (shooting) wrist and thumb throughout the preseason.
Williams has refused to talk about the tape. "He got hit on it, I guess," Hollins said. "I don't know."
The coach said the tape hasn't affected Williams' effectiveness.
"When he's played, he's played with it on," Hollins said. "It didn't do anything to his shooting. He's practiced with it on. Not even an issue."
Notes & quotes: Caspar Ware, who was acquired from the 76ers on Friday in a trade for Marquis Teague, was waived as the Nets pared their roster to 15 players . . . The Nets will hold an open practice Sunday at Barclays Center.