Brook Lopez suffers ‘mild right midfoot sprain’ and could miss Nets opener

By on October 17, 2014

Brook Lopez could miss the Nets’ season opener.Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images Brook Lopez could miss the Nets’ season opener.

The key to the Nets’ season has always been about staying healthy. And already before meaningful games can start, they are faced with a scare regarding Brook Lopez’s fragile right foot.

The 26-year-old center suffered a “mild right mid-foot sprain,” the Nets announced Thursday night, an injury with a recovery timeline of 10-14 days that could keep him out of the season opener on Oct. 29 at Boston.

Lopez suffered the sprain during the first quarter of Wednesday’s preseason game against the Kings in China, experiencing “soreness after being stepped on,” according to Nets medical director Dr. Riley Williams III. Subsequent X-rays and a CT scan revealed no fractures or bone injuries, the doctor said.

It’s the same foot that Lopez twice fractured to sabotage two of his last three seasons. He has already undergone three surgeries, including one in January that involved the movement of a bone from one part of his foot to another. Lopez said he was forced to learn how to walk again, and now he’s dealing with an early setback.

The Nets signed Lopez to a four-year, $ 61 million deal in 2012 but were unable to get insurance on his foot. In addition to the two breaks to the fifth metatarsal bone in December of 2011 and December of 2013, Lopez also underwent surgery to replace a bent screw.

He has missed 134 games over the last three seasons — almost all related to his right foot — after playing in every game in his first three seasons. Lopez, an essential and clearly fragile part of Brooklyn’s offense, is leading the Nets in scoring in the preseason. He continued to play Wednesday after spraining his foot, finishing with 16 points in 21 minutes.

Lopez also previously finished the games each time he fractured his foot.

One year after coming in at a career-high 290 pounds, Lopez dropped weight heading into training camp to alleviate the pressure following surgery. Leading up to the China trip, he said he felt good, confident and unencumbered. Lionel Hollins said he wouldn’t restrict Lopez’s minutes, but that may change since he couldn’t go three preseason games without an injury.

Big centers and foot problems are not a good mix. Foot injuries have derailed the careers of Yao Ming, Sam Bowie and Bill Walton, among others.

The good sign for the Nets is that Lopez suffered a mid-foot sprain early in the 2012-13 season and recovered to become an All-Star. The bad sign is he broke his foot again a year later and is always one misstep away from a devastating injury.

Deron Williams is also had surgery in the offseason to repair his troublesome ankles. He has played well in the preseason.

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