Brook Lopez plays 5-on-5, feels “great”

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams
Brook Lopez, Deron Williams (AP)

If you believe Brook Lopez, then Brook Lopez is doing just fine. Lopez teamed up with Keke Palmer for an nutrition education program in Harlem, teaching kids proper nutritional values in a Back-To-School program.

Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York caught up with Lopez at the event, who’s been fully cleared for basketball activities after breaking his foot last December. Lopez says he’s been playing five-on-five scrimmages for two days now and feels “no problems… I feel great out there”:

“It was great,” Lopez said Tuesday at a community event in Harlem. “I got my second day of five-on-five in today. It’s been going well. It feels good to be back out there with the guys. Everyone’s been out there, and everyone looks good. It’s been good seeing Mase [Mason Plumlee] out there being vocal, doing his thing and seeing how much he learned over the summer [playing with Team USA].”

As Lopez eases his way back into playing form, patience is going to be important. Nets GM Billy King told reporters Monday that the 26-year-old All-Star would likely not be participating in both sessions of two-a-day practices at the start of training camp (Day 1 is Saturday).

“It’s tough,” Lopez said. “Timmy [trainer Tim Walsh] yanked me after three games yesterday. I wasn’t happy about it. I played five or six today. I’m getting back into it. I’ll comply. I was difficult yesterday. I wasn’t happy to be pulled early, but I understand where it’s coming from. It’s just I understand it’ll take a while, I have to be patient. I’ve been patient since January already, so what’s another few weeks.”

Via ESPN New York — Lopez plays five-on-five; impressed by teammates

Lopez’s health may be the biggest question mark facing a team chock full of them. After fracturing a bone in his foot in the fourth quarter of a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Lopez played the rest of the game — including a five-minute overtime — and was ruled out for the season the next day. The particular bone has been a problem for Lopez for the last few years, and doctors realigned his foot in a special surgery designed to lessen pressure on the side of his foot.

Lopez has always been an offensive juggernaut. “Losing Brook, that’s 20 points right there,” teammate Deron Williams said at his charity dodgeball tournament in September of Lopez’s offensive skill. But Lopez has tried to make defensive strides in recent years, and it’ll be a primary goal for coach Lionel Hollins, a defensive-minded motivator who built league-best defenses around center Marc Gasol. Lopez was an improved defender near the rim, but struggled when he was brought out of the paint.

“I think it just takes being vocal, and then working on my lateral quickness,” Lopez told ESPN New York. “But the most important thing is our team defense. Obviously you’re only as strong as your weakest link — we have a lot of guys that are great defenders and great team defenders — and I hope to learn from them. I was learning from (Kevin Garnett) last season, and even as I sat on the sideline last season I watched him play, so I expect to learn from him and guys like (Andrei Kirilenko) more and more.”

The Nets have media day on Friday, September 26th, and begin training camp the day after until October 6th. Their first preseason game comes against Maccabi Tel Aviv on October 7th in Barclays Center.

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