Jason Kidd, Bucks to court Brook Lopez in free agency

Brook Lopez & Jason Kidd. (AP)
Brook Lopez & Jason Kidd. (AP)
Brook Lopez & Jason Kidd. (AP)

Title says it all. Via Marc Stein of ESPN:

League sources say the Bucks want a proven center in free agency if they can score one, and have pinpointed two kinds of former All-Stars — Dallas’ Tyson Chandler and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez — as targets for the top of their wish list.

This isn’t the first set of Lopez-to-the-Bucks rumors we’ve heard. In May, Gary Woelfel of the Milwaukee Journal-Times reported that Lopez would consider joining the Bucks in free agency.

The report comes on the heels of a cost-cutting trade by the Bucks, in which they sent Ersan “Giant James Franco” Ilyasova and his $7.9 million contract to the Detroit Pistons for the non-guaranteed deals of Caron Butler and Shawne Williams. Now might be the time to mention that last year Kidd reportedly lobbied for a trade that would send Ilyasova to the Nets for Lopez — shortly before Kidd left for Milwaukee. Where there’s smoke…

It’s also no coincidence that Kidd has both played with Chandler (on the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks) and coached Lopez. The two couldn’t be more different players: Chandler is a defensive-minded center who’s most advanced offensive move is finishing alley-oops, while Lopez is a lumbering scorer with a soft touch in the lane and rim-protecting with little else defensively.

At first blush, Lopez wouldn’t seem to fit Kidd’s system. The Nets only had their top-notch 2014 stretch after Lopez went down, which forced Kidd into playing his longball system with Kevin Garnett at center. That system relies on a quick-thinking big man with defensive instincts anchoring the back line, like current Bucks center John Henson.

But Kidd could be trying to build a system around Lopez that uses him as the anchor, with a few lanky players around him. After all, Kidd was able to use Zaza Pachulia effectively, despite Pachulia’s limited athletic ability, and Pachulia’s greatest strength last season was offensive rebounding (4.1 per 36 minutes). Add Lopez’s knack for grabbing offensive rebounds to his scoring, and Kidd could see Lopez as a super-Pachulia, with more ability to protect the rim.

Or, maybe the ever-competitive Kidd is just trying to prove that he can coach a winning system with Lopez, which he was unable to do in his first two months with the Nets. Not to mention the bonus for Kidd in watching the Nets sweat over whether or not Lopez would spurn them to go to Milwaukee; just imagine the repercussions and criticism if, after all the ballyhooed campaigns about Brooklyn as the big-market future, their first major free agent left for the league’s fifth-smallest market.

Re-signing Lopez is King’s top priority, after he proved his worth during the last two months of the season. It’s not clear yet if Lopez would prefer the security of a long-term contract, or would take the risk with a short-term deal that could let him take advantage of the NBA’s rising cap over the next few years. (More on the scenarios here.) The Nets can also offer Lopez more money than any other team under the collective bargaining agreement, though Lopez has been coy on his summer motivations.

Teams can begin negotiating with free agents on July 1.

ESPN — Summer Scoop: Bucks can spend cash