Despite the Nets’ reported attempts to trade Brook Lopez prior to the February deadline, the big man is keeping the team in the playoff hunt, Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com writes. Over his past four games, Lopez is averaging 30.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 36.8 minutes while shooting 65.8% from the field. Lopez has a player option worth $16,744,218 for 2015/16, and while he may want to opt out and try to secure a long-term deal given his injury history, the center might be wise to wait until the salary cap increases in 2016 to test the free agent market, Mazzeo opines.
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The switch to the triangle offense has also been a difficult one for the Knicks‘ D-League affiliate, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. Westchester owns the second-worst record of the 18 teams D-League teams with a mark of 10-35. There are also rumblings that coach Kevin Whitted hasn’t been on the same page as assistant Craig Hodges all season, a league source tells Berman. There’s speculation Hodges could be Westchester’s head coach next season, according to Berman’s source.
- Westchester has also failed to develop its younger players, Berman’s source relayed. That opinion also included that the team has filled out its roster with too many veterans. Knicks second-rounder Thanasis Antetokounmpo was not considered not ready to play for a woeful New York squad after a season in Westchester, Berman notes. In addition, prospect Orlando Sanchez left the squad recently because of financial reasons when told he wasn’t going to be signed to an NBA deal, according to Berman.
- Nerlens Noel has begun to prove that he can remain healthy and become a force for the Sixers, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes. Coach Brett Brown has been particularly impressed with how well the 216 pound rookie has held up this season, Howard-Cooper adds. “He’s 216 pounds and an NBA center right now,” Brown said of Noel. “We’re trying to play him as a four or a five. The fact that he’s got through it with no knee problem and only missed four games, one because of another injury and a few because of sickness, to only miss four games as a rookie, that is a hell of an effort. To take it further and zoom in on the knee, I just feel like he is heading in the right direction on all levels.”