Before free agency even began, there were rumors that Jason Kidd would try to snare Brook Lopez from the Brooklyn Nets.
But Lopez, sitting in Barclays Center shortly after signing a three-year maximum deal, said it was little more than a brief conversation between a former coach & player, and at the end of the day, Brooklyn was where he wanted to be.
“I heard from J-Kidd, we talked a little bit, but at the end of the day, I’m here right now,” Lopez said following a 20-minute press conference introducing Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Thomas Robinson, and Shane Larkin. “This is where I wanted to be.”
Lopez never seriously considered leaving Brooklyn, not after the team was willing to give him a three-year maximum deal that will end up paying him close to $63.8 million overall. Though it’s technically the most money Lopez could have made with a three-year contract, the difference between a max from the Nets and a max from any other team would have been less than $2 million over the course of the deal.
He’s also been the subject of constant trade rumors for the past three seasons, for everyone from Dwight Howard to Lance Stephenson to Reggie Jackson. But if he plays through the end of his contract, Lopez will have spent 10 seasons as a member of the Nets organization, longer than any other player in franchise history. Amazing how that works out.
“I was pretty confident on my end that I wanted to be here,” Lopez said. “There weren’t really any other serious destinations, I suppose. We obviously worked something out.”
“I think we’re committed to each other,” Lopez cracked, turning to look at King, who sat at Lopez’s right.
Lopez averaged 17.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season, upping those numbers to 19.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game following the All-Star Break & the Nets’ acquisition of Thaddeus Young. Keeping the two together was Brooklyn’s top priority this offseason, and the feeling was mutual for Lopez.
“We played together before when we were younger,” Lopez said. “Actually, being on the subway (traveling to the press conference) reminded me of 10 years ago. We were in France on the train in Paris going through. We’ve played together before obviously, but not in the league before. So there is some foundation there. Obviously we had to try to fit what Lionel was doing and everyone else. But I think we obviously work very well together.”
The team still has a long way to go. Lopez and Young are just two building blocks, and no one will project the Nets as a definite playoff team before the season in the Eastern Conference with their current roster lacking shooting and star players. But Lopez, notoriously out of the fray, avoids the chatter.
“It’s not like we’re the ones making the noise or not making the noise regardless,” Lopez said. “I mean, when you look at a lot of the guys that performed well this season, you’ve got DeMarre Carroll, guys like Draymond Green, they’re not super-heralded guys coming into the season. You don’t know where they’re going to come from. I’m not guaranteeing anything from here, but we have a lot of guys that are working right now, and we do expect some things from them next season.”