League execs expect Brook Lopez to opt out this summer, become free agent

AP
AP

Brook Lopez has the biggest decision of his financial life to make this summer, and some in the NBA think they know what he’ll do.

Zach Lowe of Grantland reports that executives around the NBA expect Lopez to opt out of the last year of his deal and pursue a long-term contract for financial security. Doing so would mean less risk for Lopez, who has had four surgeries (three on his right foot) in his career, but also less potential reward; if Lopez opts into the final year of his contract, stays healthy, and continues to produce, he’ll hit the market right as the salary cap kicks into TV Money Extravaganza Mode, rocketing from the $70 million range to ~$90 million. That would put the starting salary for a Lopez max deal around $25 million, and the total of a five-year deal around $150 million.

Opting out presents the Nets with a quandary. They could elect to re-sign him, knowing that even a maximum deal this offseason will look like a bargain once the league’s TV money kicks in. If they can get that contract insured by the league, all the better, though the league may elect not to given his history of foot problems.

But with the repeater luxury tax looming, they could also just sever the ties and let him go, bringing their cap hit down to $69 million next season, right around the projected cap. The Nets have been in cost-cutting mode when possible, electing not to bring back either Paul Pierce or Andray Blatche.[note]Though they also let go of Blatche for separate reasons related to his off-court troubles.[/note] Add in expiring deals for Joe Johnson ($24.9 million) and Deron Williams ($21.04 million), and the Nets have some flexibility moving forward. Maybe they pawn off Johnson to Charlotte in a deal discussed in January.

Lopez has blown the lid off the league in the last two months, won two straight Eastern Player of the Week Awards, and just dominated his twin brother in a head-to-head matchup. He might be the league’s most effective scorer inside when healthy, and has donned a Nets uniform since his rookie year in 2008. Any potential move would result in a seismic shift in how the Nets play. It may also not be for the better, given how well he’s played since the All-Star break.

In the article, Lowe also discusses Mirza Teletovic as a potential bargain signing this offseason, should the Nets elect to move on from him after acquiring Thaddeus Young. He closes the Teletovic section simply: “Random thing: Watch the Spurs on Teletovic.”

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