FRIDAY, 10:19am: Beck has been given every indication that the Nets will re-sign Lopez this summer (Twitter link). Mason Plumlee‘s improvement was in part behind Brooklyn’s willingness to trade Lopez earlier this season, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The dynamic has changed since then, as the departure of mentor Kevin Garnett and Plumlee’s free-throw shooting woes have helped push the 25-year-old big man from the rotation, as Bondy details.
TUESDAY, 10:11am: The prevailing belief around the league is that Brook Lopez will opt out but re-sign with the Nets on a max deal this summer, one opposing GM tells Fred Kerber of the New York Post. The GM and other executives to whom Kerber spoke point to Brooklyn’s urgency to re-sign him, since the Nets would be unlikely to have the cap space necessary this summer to afford a replacement who’d produce at Lopez’s level if he were to leave. Lopez’s player option is worth more than $16.744MM, but he’d be eligible for a new deal with a starting salary of up to an estimated $19MM or so, depending on where the league sets the maximum salary for a player with his seven years of experience.
That maximum-salary figure won’t be released until after Lopez has to decide on the option, but projections make it clear that he stands to gain if he can indeed command a max deal. A GM who spoke to Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops suggested that Lopez was worth $16MM salaries that would fall in line with the value of his option. Most executives around the league have expected Lopez to turn down the option, Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote a few weeks ago, though Lowe had heard the opposite early in the season, before Lopez’s sudden surge over the last couple of months. Even in December, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck heard from many executives who expected Lopez to opt out.
Lopez said in late March that he hadn’t thought about what to do with the option, but regardless, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov made it clear earlier this month that he wants Lopez to stay, telling reporters, including Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, that, “We need him.” The return of Lopez would almost assuredly push the Nets into luxury tax territory for a fourth year in a row, meaning they’d pay repeater penalties if they didn’t get under the tax line by the end of the regular season next year, but Prokhorov indicated a willingness to shell out the extra money.
The client of Darren Matsubara and Arn Tellem has led the Nets this season in postseason scoring, with 21.3 points per game, rebounding, with 11.0 per game, and blocks, with 2.3 per game. Lopez turned 27 this month and, in spite of missing 134 games over a three-year span because of three surgeries on a broken foot, he played 72 regular season games this year. A strong majority of Hoops Rumors readers who voted in a recent poll advised Lopez to capitalize on his health and strong play and opt out.