On the even of the 2011-12 NBA season, the New Jersey Nets were dealt a major blow to their hopes of contending for the playoffs. GM Billy King announced on Thursday center Brook Lopez has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the right foot.
Lopez suffered the injury during the first half of the Nets 88-82 loss to the New York Knicks in their preseason finale. He continued to play on the injury into the fourth quarter, putting up 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
Surgery is expected to take place Friday, with no timetable yet set for his return. The injury is thought to be similar to the one suffered last year by Damion James, when he was limited to just 25 games.
Some have speculated Lopez could be back on the court in 4-6 weeks.
The idea of Lopez missing time is one the Nets have never had to deal with. In his three years with New Jersey, Lopez has played in every single game, 246 consecutive contests. That streak will end Monday night against the Washington Wizards when Johan Petro will likely start in his place.
King will be searching for an immediate replacement, but it also throws a major wrench into his long-term plan to acquire Orlando Magic big man Dwight Howard. While the Magic were weary to move Howard before, there's no way they are going to want a deal centered on a hobbled Lopez. He will have to come back within that 4-6 week timetable and quickly show he is healthy if the Nets have any hopes of completing a deal before the March 15 trade deadline.