It's been a tough start to the 2011-2012 season for New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez.
Swirling rumors that he would be packaged in a trade for Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard, a foot injury that is expected to sideline him for six weeks and now word that the Nets do not currently have plans to offer him a contract extension.
ESPNNY.com reports that Nets GM Billy King said Wednesday that the Nets won't move to lock up Lopez in advance of a January 25th contract extension deadline.
"I'm sure I'll have a conversation with his agent [Arn Tellem]," King told reporters before Wednesday night's game against the Golden State Warriors. "But I don't know if we'll do anything with him at this point. I think you just have to wait. They may throw a number at you that makes sense."Lopez, 23, is regarded as one of the more promising young big men in the NBA, but the timing of his injury couldn't be worse. He's coming off a season in which he averaged 20.4 points but left much to be desired by only pulling down 6.0 rebounds per game. Lopez stated publicly that he would hit the glass harder but, given the type of major investment talented 7-footers require in the NBA, it's not a huge surprise that New Jersey prefers to wait before cutting the check now that their evaluation time has been eliminated by the injury.
"The injury has had an impact on it," King said.
If Lopez does not agree to an extension, he would become a restricted free agent this summer. Keeping their options open with Lopez also allows the Nets to maximize their flexibility and continue their pursuit of high-profile free agents next summer, in an ongoing effort to convince All-Star guard Deron Williams to stick around.
Through Wednesday, the Netes are 4-11 on the season.