King: For Lopez, 'Sky is the limit'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brook Lopez never wanted to leave the Nets.

But if GM Billy King had it his way, Lopez would've been headed to Orlando and Dwight Howard would've been coming to Brooklyn.

It didn't work out. Howard ended up a Laker, while Lopez ended up with a four-year, $60 million contract to remain a Net.

No more trade rumors. No more uncertainty. No more "Dwightmare."

"The guy I feel the happiest for is Brook Lopez, because now he can go to training camp not dodging the questions or reading them or hearing about them. He's here. He's part of the foundation and I told him that when we agreed on the deal," King said Tuesday.

Lopez, 24, is a good center, one of the best in the NBA. Still, there are knocks on his rebounding, defense and toughness. Oh, and he played in just five games last season because of a foot injury.


"I think the sky's the limit with him," King said. "He is healthy, he is playing 5-on-5 without restrictions. I think for him it's just about becoming a better basketball player. For two years his mind has been distracted by not just injuries, but is he going to be a part of (this)? I give him credit for being invested in something he wasn't sure if he was going to be a part of."

King did say Lopez needs to do a better job on the boards. He can't rely on Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans to grab them. He must be willing to bang inside.

So is he the most important player for Brooklyn this season?

"He's one of them," King said, noting that the Nets aren't going to have to rely on just one player on offense.

So ... distractions? What distractions?

"The distractions of all that (Dwightmare) is gone now, the trade scenarios, and there's only three guys that can be traded from now until Dec. 15. It is a great relief, it really is," King said.