LOS ANGELES — For the second time in the Nets’ first 10 games, coach Kenny Atkinson and the organization’s “performance team” made a decision to have franchise center Brook Lopez sit out one game of a back-to-back set. This time, Lopez missed playing the Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center, but he will return against the Lakers on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
“It’s just our plan for him, big picture,” Atkinson said of a plan designed to build Lopez to a peak performance level on a consistent basis. The effect is to give Lopez two days off after Saturday night’s game in Phoenix and two more after the Lakers game before the Nets play Friday night in Oklahoma City.
Justin Hamilton replaced Lopez in the starting lineup against rugged Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Lopez previously sat out the third game of the season at Milwaukee but did play both games of a back-to-back last week.
“We’ve been having meetings throughout the process,” Lopez said. “We had a schedule kind of planned out, but it’s pretty tentative. We’ve mostly been playing it by ear. We felt it would be best to take one of these [two games in Los Angeles] off and just go for it after that.”
Atkinson said the plan for Lopez changes from one segment of the season to the next based on input from many, including Lopez. “We kind of play it by a set of four games or five games,” Lopez said.
Asked if he expects to remain on a similar maintenance schedule through the season or ramp up to full-time status, Lopez said, “I see it as a ramping-up process. I feel my minutes will increase more, and hopefully we’ll start feeling more comfortable and maybe throwing me into the back-to-backs here or there, just picking them out. Obviously, it will be a committee decision, but being that I’m playing, I think I have some input.”