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Nets face grim future after Lopez injury

The Brooklyn Nets and center Brook Lopez face long-term questions after the center's latest injury.
The Brooklyn Nets and center Brook Lopez face long-term questions after the center's latest injury.
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The Nets received more bad news in an ongoing carousel of morbidity that has been the 2013-14 season.

Brook Lopez, their oft-injured center, suffered another broken foot Friday night in the Nets’ overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Although the Nets have yet to announce the injury, sources close to the team believe Lopez will miss the rest of the season with a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The injury occurred to the same foot that Lopez rehabilitated twice before.

This injury comes wrought with long-term concerns, with Lopez’s health at the heart of the matter. Lopez has stuck with the Nets through thick and thin, and although his rebounding needs improvement, he’s otherwise been a model citizen. Foot injuries derailed the careers of promising big men like Bill Walton and Yao Ming, so the prognosis does not bode favorably for the Brooklyn center.

And when the dust settles from the realization that Lopez most likely will not play again this season, management and fans alike will then realize that a mediocre team just lost its centerpiece.

Head coach Jason Kidd often speaks about the team’s desire to play through Lopez, so this injury affects every player and the system.

As if a disappointing season could not get any worse, losing Lopez shelves any hopes of title talk so popular during the offseason. With that understood, an old and injury-prone team loses one year of what promised to be a two-year plan.

The injury subsequently puts the Nets in a no-win situation. If they stand pat, they will lose. If they hemorrhage more assets for a short-term, and likely rash, solution, they lose down the road. Odds are a trade for the likes of Omer Asik will also end in immediate heartbreak as no game-changing center finds himself on the trade block.

And if the Nets ultimately decide to start slashing prices like Crazy Eddie’s and go into full rebuild mode, they can’t hide the fact that they eschewed that reality two years earlier in an attempt to win in 2013 and 2014.

The Nets dumped so many first-round picks, they’ll need to wait roughly half a decade to make a selection in their own name. Meanwhile, the Nets could build a contender with all the players and picks they squandered, only to put themselves in the position in which they find themselves on Dec. 21.

For those fans willing to remove their heads from under the pillows, they’ll realize this management regime failed them. This includes everyone from general manager Billy King to Mikhail Prokhorov’s Russian brain trust concerned more with popular headlines than sound basketball decisions.

The Nets gambled on a lot of players, and through 26 games the results mirror the on-court results.

These injuries aren’t bad breaks either. These injuries were foreseeable. Kevin Garnett missed Friday night’s game due to rest. He won’t shave 10 years off his birth certificate over night. Lopez re-injured a foot that’s plagued him for years. Deron Williams arrived in New Jersey injured and has been ever since. Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and Andrei Kirilenko all boast laundry lists filled with age, surgeries, and medical concerns.

The Nets gambled and they lost.

The next question: How do they reverse course and head in the right direction for the future?

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