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Nets shut down Lopez for rest of season

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP)

The New Jersey Nets have decided to shut down Brook Lopez for the rest of the season after an injury-marred campaign in which he played in five games.

Nets general manager Billy King announced before Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards that the third-year player won’t be used for the final 10 games because it’s not worth the risk with the 24-year-old eligible to become a free agent after this season.

Lopez missed the Nets’ first 32 games after breaking his right foot in the preseason. He returned on Feb. 19 and averaged 19.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in five games before spraining his right ankle. He missed 10 games with that injury and the last eight because the ankle injury aggravated his foot again.

“He is healing nicely but with 10 games to go and him being a free agent and looking for the future, we’ll sit him down for the rest of this year,” said King, who talked with Lopez’s agent in Los Angeles earlier this week.

“It was a collective effort,” King said. “I talked to Arn Tellem in LA and we decided I didn’t want to make the decision for Brook because with him being a free agent. But everybody thought it best for the young center not to risk anything the rest of this year.”

Before this season, Lopez had not missed a regular-season game in his first three years in the NBA.

Lopez took the news well, King said, adding the former first-round pick knows there is a lot more basketball down the road.

King said that with the Nets virtually out of the playoffs for the fifth straight season, it was an easy decision with Lopez and backup point guard Jordan Farmar. The Nets said on Thursday that Farmar will sit the remainder of the season with a groin injury.

“It’s looking out for what’s best for the players and their interests,” said King, who believes Lopez will be healthy by the time the season ends later this month.

Lopez was not immediately available for comment.

King believes that Lopez likes the fact that the Nets have added Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace in the past two seasons, brought back Kris Humphries as a free agent and signed D-League player Gerald Green.

“I would not put numbers or anything, but I think we’re headed in the right direction,” King said. That’s the thing I like. Gerald Wallace has given us the versatility, where he can guard a point guard one night and a power forward the next, can handle the ball. Gerald Green has been a nice addition to the bench. When you don’t have Brook Lopez, when you don’t have Jordan Farmar, some of your key pieces and add this to the mix, and you’re not short-handed, then your bench becomes better. That’s where you can look at the positives.”

Tagged: Gerald Wallace, Gerald Green, Jordan Farmar, Brook Lopez, Nets

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