Entering the 2016-17 season, many people just assumed the Brooklyn Nets were going to trade Brook Lopez. And with the way he’s playing now, you’d think that would remain the prevailing mindset.
Per Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler:
That is why you are not hearing a lot about Lopez being traded. They won;t get enough value for it to make sense https://t.co/1XGRl9RID0
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) December 30, 2016
Indeed, from an outsider’s perspective, all has seemed quiet on the Lopez front—save for a report from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein back in November that stated Brooklyn was open to moving its All-Star center.
This silence feels weird on some level. Lopez has emerged as a quality rim protector when he’s allowed to camp out around the basket, and he’s an above-average three-point shooter for someone at his position. He has one year left on his deal, which won’t even pay him a top-35 salary by the time next season tips off, and at 28, he’s firmly in his prime.
Toss in the fact that the Nets could use first-round picks, and the idea that they should move him makes sense.
Or does it?
The Nets are never going to get adequate value in return Lopez. With the money he’s making, there’s even a chance they’d have to take back a long-term contract to get a deal done, and that wouldn’t make much sense for them.
The ideal package would see a team fork over prospects, expiring deal and first-round pick. That trade will be tough to find, if it’s even out there. The Nets tried signing Allen Crabbe over the summer, and as ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe has noted time and again, a Lopez-for-Crabbe swap could make sense for both sides. But the Nets can’t acquire Crabbe until some time over the summer after inking him to that offer sheet the Portland Trail Blazers matched. Besides, they have a glut of wings already on the docket, albeit none with the proven three-and-D value of Crabbe.
All of which is to say: Lopez has become too valuable to the Nets, as both a leader and on-court contributor, to be moved for the sake of collecting draft picks. Expect him to finish the season in Brooklyn.