Restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez is progressing toward an agreement for a maximum contract with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Nets president Billy King and Lopez’s agent, Arn Tellem, are finalizing the length of the deal – four years for $58 million, or five years for $78 million – and ironing out protections on the back end to account for a right foot that Lopez broke twice in the past year, sources said.
As close as the Nets and Lopez are on a deal, several sources wouldn't rule out the possibility of Lopez still signing an offer sheet with another team for the full four-year, $58 million maximum contract if the final details are unable to be worked out. The Charlotte Bobcats have shown the most interest in signing Lopez to a max sheet, sources said. The Nets would undoubtedly match, but signing the offer sheet would be a way for Lopez to avoid any partial guarantees based on games that the Nets might want in his deal.
King is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles on Wednesday to work on completing the deal with Tellem.
Brooklyn needs Lopez as the centerpiece of a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Orlando’s Dwight Howard, but is running out of time waiting for the Magic to make a decision on where they want to trade him, sources said. The Nets need to add four free agents into a deal for Howard, and convincing all of them to be a part of a complicated sign-and-trade deal much beyond Wednesday’s end to the league’s moratorium on transactions becomes increasingly more unrealistic every day.
Once Lopez signs the deal, he can’t be traded until December.
Orlando has refocused its trade talks for Howard with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, and the Nets are starting to believe that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan simply wants to do a deal elsewhere, sources said. Clearly, the Nets are pushing hard on Lopez’s deal to apply pressure to Orlando, but there’s nothing left for them to offer Orlando that they haven’t already made available to them.
The Nets are offering the Magic three first-round picks, and a fourth that it believes it can gain upon moving guard MarShon Brooks in a trade, sources said.
The Houston Rockets were aggressively shopping players on Tuesday, including forward Luis Scola, in an attempt to create more salary-cap space and gain another first-round pick to fulfill Orlando’s wants for a Howard deal, sources said.
After not missing a game in his first three NBA seasons, Lopez played only five last season after breaking his foot twice. Nevertheless, doctors have fully cleared him to return for the start of training camp.
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