Nets' Lopez Still Trade Bait

Nets' Lopez Still Trade Bait

In the Nets’ all-for-one, one-for-all lineup, which doesn’t have a transcendent star, the 24-year-old Brook Lopez is perhaps the most important element.

He scores efficiently (52.1 percent), goes to the foul line frequently and even plays a little defense around the rim (2.1 blocks a game). Those statistics could be even higher if he were playing more than 30 minutes a game.

His value was firmly established in December, when the Nets lost five straight games in his absence, starting the downward spiral that eventually led to Coach Avery Johnson’s dismissal.

Long derided as soft, Lopez has shown some ferocity as a shot blocker and rebounder. He will not soon be confused with Joakim Noah or Tyson Chandler — the top centers named to the All-Star team ahead of him — but then, neither Noah nor Chandler has Lopez’s inside-outside scoring ability.

“I am speechless,” Nets General Manager Billy King said on Twitter after the reserves were announced.

No one appreciates Lopez more than King, who watched him work his way back diligently from a devastating foot injury last year, and who showed his faith by signing Lopez to a four-year, $61 million contract in July.

That is what makes the latest round of trade rumors especially twisted.

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