NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, looking noticeably slimmer at a community event Wednesday at Barclays Center, reiterated that there is “no question” he will be ready to play at the beginning of the season.
Lopez, who said he just got cleared to begin running last Monday, is recovering from foot and ankle surgery. He was limited to 17 games last season.
“I’ve tried to remain positive. Finally being back is a great feeling. I’ve never been so excited to do little things like jump rope, stretch and run a little,” Lopez said at a Coca-Cola-sponsored event to promote healthy lifestyles for Boys and Girls Club teenagers in Flatbush. “But there’s no question I’m going to be ready to go at the beginning of the season.”
Lopez has been working at the team’s practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey, running, jumping, shooting and doing defensive slide drills, as he makes his way back from injury.
He says he currently weighs just under 275 pounds -- a weight he says is normal for him.
“I’m definitely more comfortable, but I think that just comes with being more active again,” Lopez said.
Asked about learning how to run again after having a bone repositioned in his foot as part of the surgery, Lopez said, “It’s good. I feel like I still have to get more power under my legs in general. I’m not worried about my feet. It’s getting the power back in my lower legs I lost when I had to lie around.”
He doesn’t know when he will be able to play 5-on-5, noting that many of his teammates are still away, meaning it would be pretty hard to make that happen. The Nets open training camp on Sept. 27.
The Nets are going to need their 26-year-old center to be healthy and productive. They lost Paul Pierce to the Washington Wizards but are hopeful that Lopez’s ability to score in the post makes up for the departure of the championship-winning veteran.
“I view it that Washington made a great pickup,” Lopez said. “It’s a great place for ‘Truth’ to be. But we have to focus on what we have here and the way Mason [Plumlee] has been growing this summer and the fact that D-Will [Deron Williams] will be healthy, I will be healthy, and the other players will continue to grow. We’ve gained a lot.”
Plumlee is currently vying for a spot on Team USA’s roster in advance of the World Cup.
Lopez believes the two young bigs could form a formidable frontcourt tandem for Brooklyn.
“I think we complement each other very well,” Lopez said. “He likes to get up-and-down the floor, he’s athletic, but I think the most important thing, though, is as long as we have high basketball IQ players who are unselfish and are willing to do whatever it takes for the team’s game, five of those players on the floor and we’ll be all right.”
Lopez has spoken with new coach Lionel Hollins.
“I’ve met with him. I love what he did in Memphis,” Lopez said. “He had some great teams out there, and my high school teammate Quincy [Pondexter] played for him and learned a lot under him and grew as a player, so I hope to do the same.”
Lopez should be able to play in the post in Hollins’ offensive system, something he may have had to change with Jason Kidd at the helm.
“I know I can go out there and play, but whatever role he has for me, I’ll gladly accept it,” Lopez said.