Lopez, Now the Brooklyn Net He Envisioned
July 18, 2012
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Wednesday at the NY Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge, center Brook Lopez emerged from his restricted free agency with a new long-term deal. Remaining with the Nets, as Lopez envisioned throughout the offseason, he's excited to open Barclays Center this fall.
As trade rumors swirled, Brook Lopez buried his head in his comics and his body in rehab. When he emerged, days after the end of the NBA's free agency period, it was with a contract guaranteeing an extended stay with the Brooklyn Nets.
"I can't really say how fortunate I am to be here today," Lopez said. "I'm so happy I'm still a Net -- it's what I wanted this entire offseason, through the whole free agency process. And I just want to be here my entire career."
The 24-year-old center said he never envisioned himself playing anywhere this fall except the soon-to-be-complete Barclays Center. He's spoken time and again about the importance of seeing through a Brooklyn move he's been preparing for since joining the team and first having the vision presented to him in 2008.
Lopez said that while frustration built as injuries limited his on-court action in 2011-12, the 7-footer believed that his play "spoke for itself" during the previous three seasons when he didn't miss a game. And he felt reassured by Coach Avery Johnson, who drove out to Lopez's youth basketball camp to meet with him and deliver a motivational speech to the kids.
"He wanted to build something special here and he wanted me to be a part of it," Lopez said. "It's been great. We talk about a lot of stuff outside of basketball. I'm comfortable talking to (him and GM Billy King) about many things that I'm not comfortable talking to (the media about. It's definitely a fantastic relationship and I'm glad we're in the relationship we're in together."
The coach declared Lopez's one of the league's top five centers, a "dynamic" offensive player he believes can make significant strides defensively. Johnson praised Lopez for his ability to take direction, saying he's fortunate to be Lopez's coach.
Even with Lopez spending the summer continuing to rehab his foot and also put on strength to better compete in the post, Johnson feels Lopez will play a crucial part in the team's "great potential" to become one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. The still-developing center rounds out a starting five that also includes Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.
"There are 25 other teams that really would want his services," Johnson said. "But we're glad that it worked out where he's here. He obviously was drawing attention from some other teams during the free agency process, but he's home, he's with the Brooklyn Nets, he'll be in the Nets' lineup opening night at the Barclays Center and that's really what matters."
Lopez is anticipating the team's move to Brooklyn, not only because of the on-court product -- believing teammates Williams and Johnson will make his life easier, creating easy scoring chances -- but also the opportunity to finally play at Barclays Center. He said Wednesday that he's counting down the days, and can't remember being so excited to start a season.
"The energy that's anticipated to be in the arena that opening night, that's what I keep imagining," Lopez said.
Full Press Conference