NBA Roundtable

Brooklyn Near Max-Contract Agreement with Brook Lopez

In Free Agency on July 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Adrian Wojnarowski writes

Restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez is progressing toward an agreement for a maximum contract with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Nets president Billy King and Lopez’s agent, Arn Tellem, are finalizing the length of the deal – four years for $58 million, or five years for $78 million – and ironing out protections on the back end to account for a right foot that Lopez broke twice in the past year, sources said.

The article continues on to talk about the time pressures that are driving this deal. Both the potential sign and trade to Orlando for Dwight Howard and the risk of Brook Lopez signing an offer sheet elsewhere and ruling that opportunity out.

As close as the Nets and Lopez are on a deal, several sources wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Lopez still signing an offer sheet with another team for the full four-year, $58 million maximum contract if the final details are unable to be worked out. The Charlotte Bobcats have shown the most interest in signing Lopez to a max sheet, sources said. The Nets would undoubtedly match, but signing the offer sheet would be a way for Lopez to avoid any partial guarantees based on games that the Nets might want in his deal.

Brooklyn needs Lopez as the centerpiece of a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Orlando’s Dwight Howard, but is running out of time waiting for the Magic to make a decision on where they want to trade him, sources said. The Nets need to add four free agents into a deal for Howard, and convincing all of them to be a part of a complicated sign-and-trade deal much beyond Wednesday’s end to the league’s moratorium on transactions becomes increasingly more unrealistic every day.

Once Lopez signs the deal, he can’t be traded until December.

Analysis

Money matters

I would say Brook Lopez is worth somewhere in the $10-12 million range.

That would be $50-60 million over five years vs the $78 million he got from Brooklyn. So overpaid by at least $18 million ($3 million per annum).

Market Factors

Considering the way the market was going, New Jersey (ahh, bloody hell, that’s annoying. Keep doing that) Brooklyn was always going to have to pay the maximum to keep hold of him.

That said, I thought the Nets should have forced the four year max like Memphis did with Marc Gasol and Indiana with Hibbert instead of giving Brook Lopez that fifth year on his deal. That was a mistake.

I will say this, I am more comfortable with giving Brook Lopez the max than Roy Hibbert.

Update: The max deal is smaller than initially reported. Only $61 million over four years vs $78 million over five. So they did get a deal comparable to the one Memphis got with Marc Gasol and Indiana with Roy Hibbert.

Nets Had To Pay

With Deron Williams + Joe Johnson + Gerald Wallace already on the books and with their combined salaries worth around $50 million for three players alone …

Given that they were locked into those contracts long term and had little wiggle room financially + a lack of future high quality draft picks + a lack of high quality trade assets …

The Nets were locked in. They had to go all-in on Brook Lopez because they weren’t going to be able to replace him if they let him leave via free agency to another team. Their only chance at putting together a title contender was to overpay Brook Lopez (along with JJ).

The Nets four man core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace is a strong foursome. A very capable core. One that could be the foundation to a title contender in the near-future if they get their supporting cast in order.

This was a necessary + a good risk to undertake. A job well done.

Talent Level

Brook Lopez is one of the most highly skilled offensive players at the center position in the NBA today. He has a quality low post arsenal coupled with an ability to play in the mid-to-high post where he is a very capable jump-shooter. A rare combination in a a true seven foot frame. Needs to continue to develop his passing but was showing solid progress in years to date.

Defensively, Lopez is a poor player but he the physical talent to become a solid one. I’d love to see him play alongside a strong defensive PF on a talented defensively orientated team. I think that would do wonders for his effort-level on that end of the floor.

Brook Lopez was one of the worst rebounders in the league two years ago and he showed little sign of that changing in the few games he played last season. Prior to that, however, Brook Lopez was a decent rebounder. A below average one but serviceable. He needs to get back to that level.

Orlando and Dwight Howard

Effectively, this an ultimatum to the Magic front office to either agree to a sign and trade now or we’ll take it off the table.

The Magic seem committed to finalizing Dwight Howard’s future prior to the beginning of the season to avoid a repeat of the media-circus that surrounded the team last year. So, this wouldn’t just be temporarily off the table until December, in all likelihood, it’d be off the table permanently.

Other Teams Hoping To Land Brook Lopez

The Nets are clearly willing to pay Lopez the max so they are a lock to match any offer sheet given to Brook Lopez. Any team that signs him to one, won’t be landing Brook.

Effort in futility.

Other Nets News

In other news, the Brooklyn Nets just announced the signing of Jerry Stackhouse to a one-year minimum contract.

I don’t like the move. Brooklyn needed backup guards and reserve wings who can shoot the ball from deep to space the floor for their high scoring backcourt (Deron, JJ). Not a player like Jerry Stackhouse. Bad fit.

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