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Brook Lopez sees smart, winning player in Houston’s Alperen Sengun

HOUSTON — Saturday’s home game versus the Bucks is the first time for Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez to play at Toyota Center since the veteran big man infamously spurned the Rockets to stay put during the final stages of 2023 free agency negotiations.

In comments made at Milwaukee’s gameday shootaround, which were captured by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Lopez did not directly confirm widespread reports that the Rockets were led to believe that he would be signing with them.

Lopez, 35, says it was “pretty close” with “mutual interest.”

With Lopez not on Houston’s roster, that’s made the emergence of third-year center Alperen Sengun even more important this season.

While some have argued that Lopez spurning the Rockets was a blessing in disguise, given the increased role for a younger player at his same position, Lopez believes they could have played together. In Saturday’s interview, Lopez was very complimentary of the 21-year-old Turkish phenom, who is now drawing All-Star consideration.

“I’m sure it would have worked out,” Lopez said of Sengun, via Feigen. “He is such a talented, smart basketball player, he would have definitely made my life easy. The way he can score the ball, he can share the ball, you don’t typically see those things in a young player. He’ll continue to grow and continue to be great. He’s a tough cover. You can see he’s a winning basketball player.

“Just being [in Milwaukee] and seeing the way Giannis and I benefit one another, we have games that definitely fit together and improve each other and the team,” Lopez said. “I think obviously, as great as [Sengun] is at what he does, we could have meshed similarly.”

Feigen’s complete Houston Chronicle story can be read here.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire