Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young may see minutes cut as season winds down

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With the Brooklyn Nets well out of the playoffs and in evaluation mode, the next step might be resting the players that need the least evaluation. The team has discussed limiting minutes for Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, and possibly shutting them down for the season, Nets interim head coach Tony Brown said before the team took on the Cavaliers Thursday night.

“That’s a scenario we’ve talked about,” Brown said. “We haven’t gotten to that point yet, but we don’t want to drain these guys. Obviously they’ve been playing (a lot). We’re in games, I would like to hopefully have an opportunity to use them, and we just have to evaluate live-game situations.”

Lopez and Young rank first and second on the team in minutes played, respectively, and the wear and tear of a lost season may not be worth the value of them playing out the season. Lopez has also had multiple surgeries on his foot, which increases the risk of playing more minutes that don’t have playoff impact.

But they’re also the team’s two best players: Lopez has posted a career-high 20.7 points per game, adding eight rebounds, while Young has averaged an effective 15.2 points and a career-high 9.2 rebounds per game.

At 19-51 heading into Thursday night’s game, the Nets hold the third-worst record in the league, and do not control their first-round draft pick this season. Losing Lopez & Young would likely mean even more losses; the team is already without Jarrett Jack, who is out for the season after tearing his ACL in January, and Joe Johnson, who was bought out of his contract near the end of February.

Brown added that a likely scenario would be Young & Lopez sitting out a couple of games, rather than a complete shutdown, and that both Lopez & Young would rather play out the year.

“They’ve expressed (that they want) to play, and I commend them for that,” Brown added. “But we just want to be conscious with their minutes and we don’t want to run them into the ground. But the scenario of them not maybe playing, that’s been talked about. So we just have to figure out which game or which day that might happen.”

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