Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Nets Aren't in Panic Mode with Lopez Lost for Season

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Nets Aren't in Panic Mode with Lopez Lost for Season

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- As the Nets try to adjust to life without All- Star center Brook Lopez, the season unforgivingly marches forward.

While the team prepares to host the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers today, Lopez is scheduled to meet with doctors. He fractured a bone in his right foot in Friday night's overtime loss at Philadelphia. The injury, Lopez's fourth major right-foot issue in the last two years, is season-ending.

"He is out for the year," general manager Billy King said. "We do know that. He won't be back."

In Lopez, the Nets lose their offensive linchpin and leading scorer. But at least for the short term, King says the plan is to move forward with the players on the roster.

"We're not looking to make an imminent move, tradewise," King said.

"We've got 14 other guys that can step up. But we'll continue to discuss possibilities if we can make our team better."

The Nets' options to replace Lopez are limited because they're well above the league salary cap.

With Lopez gone, the Nets are in the process of applying for a disabled player exception. If granted by the league, they would get about $5.15 million in cap space to sign a player to replace him.

But they would have to cut a player to use the exception, and it would cost the team (already paying more than $180 million in payroll and luxury taxes) prohibitively in taxes.

Lopez's injury is just the latest setback in a frustrating campaign. The Nets billed themselves as a win-now team that could compete for a title. Instead, they have started 9-17.

King isn't ready to blow things up.

"If there's a deal out there that we feel is going to make us a better team, we'll do it," King said, "regardless of tax or the future. But we're not going to panic and do a move just to make a move because we feel we have to. I still believe in this group.

"Brook's a big part of it, but we do have other guys. …

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