CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hearing his name circulate in NBA trade-deadline rumors is a rite of February for Nets center Brook Lopez. He shook his head and smiled when the inevitable questions came Tuesday morning after reports the Pelicans have talked to the Nets about Lopez because they want a big man to pair with All-Star center Anthony Davis.
“It’s something I’m used to by now,” said Lopez, who added he hasn’t addressed the subject with Nets general manager Sean Marks or coach Kenny Atkinson. “It wouldn’t be comfortable without it ... I haven’t heard anything. If it were pressing or something was happening, I’d be aware.”
According to “The Vertical,” the Pelicans primarily are focused on acquiring Sixers backup center Jahlil Okafor, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and not only is younger but far less expensive than Lopez, who makes $21.2 million this season and $22.6 million next season.
Still, since Marks assumed control of the Nets a year ago, there has been widespread speculation that he will, at some point, use Lopez, his most valuable asset by far, to try and add first-round draft picks. The asking price for Lopez reportedly is a first-round pick this year and a first-round pick in 2018, but the Nets have declined to confirm those reports.
Lopez has been through several regimes during his nine Nets seasons, so, he takes it all with a grain of salt. “I’m used to the same situation, and I’ve always been good at ignoring that stuff,” he said.
Under Marks and Atkinson, Lopez has made dramatic adjustments to fit their system, making three-point shooting an integral part of his repertoire. That doesn’t mean he’s part of their future. “I’ve consistently said I want to see nothing but good things here and I’d love to be a part of that foundation and that growth,” Lopez said. “It’s the one team I’ve played for, the one team I’ve known.
“Obviously, I only can control what I can control . . . I’ve said what I’d prefer. They’re going to make their decision. But I would hope that I would be informed, and I have the confidence they would inform me if they were thinking something or something was going down.”
Forward Bojan Bogdanovic, a pending free agent, also could be involved in trade discussions. “I don’t read those rumors,” said Bogdanovic, who hasn’t discussed trade talk with Marks. “What happens is going to happen. There is nothing that I can do with that . . . I’m not thinking about it honestly, not even one percent.”