Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez did a light workout that involved straight running and shooting on Thursday, a day head coach Avery Johnson granted the second of two days off from practice, to test a sprained right foot that’s kept him out of the past three games.
Lopez will not play Friday night against the Golden State Warriors. He’s not ready for lateral movement, defensive work or contact. How he recovers on Thursday will dictate how much he’ll participate in Friday’s shootaround and Saturday’s practice. Johnson said over a conference call that Lopez could return to the court Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“He's feeling better, but he's got to be able to get through a full contact practice before he'll be released to play, and we're not sure at that point when that's going to happen,” Johnson said. We're seeing how he recovers today and tomorrow, and see how he recovers on Saturday. We’re making some progress, but he’s not ready to play in any game right now.”
Lopez, averaging 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, sprained his foot on November 28 against the Boston Celtics and a subsequent MRI ruled out any serious injury. From there, the Nets’ conservative plan included getting him back on his feet, out of a walking boot and on the treadmill to build confidence. Only when he’s comfortable moving laterally and playing in a full-contact practice will Lopez be cleared for game action.
“Right now there’s no pain. It’s the point of building confidence and to try to get him not only running on the court, but moving lateral. He’s not there yet. (But) we're not going to be super conservative when we make him sit out two, three, four or five games more than he should.”
Andray Blatche, signed to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal as a free-agent , is averaging 17.7 points, 9.3 boards and 51.2 percent shooting starting in place of Lopez.
“Andray is a confident player,” Johnson said. “He still, in his mind, think he’s a starter. I think the program and the plan we have him on, he sees the benefits of it. When he came in today, he came in with a great attitude, got his work done. He wants to be in the system, wants to be held accountable and that’s what’s causing him to really thrive. I think even though he’s thriving, I think he wants to thrive more with Brook in the lineup. He’s one of the big anchors of our second team.”
Reggie Evans is feeling better. The flu that kept him out of the Nets’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday is not contagious and Johnson is hopeful the bruising forward is available off the bench on Friday.
-- Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC