The Brooklyn Nets will officially open their season without starting center Brook Lopez.
Coach Lionel Hollins confirmed at Wednesday morning’s shootaround at a fitness center near the team hotel in Boston that Lopez would miss the first game of the season Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics with a mild right midfoot sprain, instead spending the night on the team’s inactive list. “He’s still having some pain when he goes hard,” Hollins explained.
Hollins didn’t rule out Lopez for Saturday but shrugged off a question about his progression. “I have no idea what progressing means. Is he pregnant or not pregnant?” Hollins joked. It was the second time Hollins made a pregnancy reference with regards to his players. “When he can play, then he will have progressed the way I’d like him to.”
Lopez injured the foot during the second of the team’s two games in China against the Sacramento Kings. He’s had numerous injuries in the past to the same foot, including three separate surgeries. But while the Nets remain cautious about bringing Lopez back, Hollins doesn’t consider the injuries connected.
“This has nothing to do with anything Brook’s had in the past,” Hollins implored. “Brook got stepped on. Somebody stepped on his foot. It’s a soft tissue. It has nothing to do with the bone. So all the conversation in the world about how to slow down and back up, when Brook’s soft tissue heals, he’ll be able to play.”
Mason Plumlee will start in Lopez’s place, who Hollins called the “next man up.” The Kevin Garnett-Mason Plumlee pairing struggled in 77 minutes last season. Plumlee earned his spot in the rotation by his play in training camp, without any regard for his showing in Team USA. “Over the summer meant nothing to me,” Hollins said. “It was good for the USA basketball team and for him and everything, but it’s what he’s done all preseason.”