The 33-year-old Cuban-American professional basketball player and Milwaukee Bucks center who has been out with a back injury since opening night, will make his return to the lineup against the Utah Jazzon Monday night, the team announced.
Lopez’s return fortifies the Bucks’ front line as the franchise prepares for the Eastern Conference playoffs and the chance to defend their NBA championship.
Lopez had back surgery on December 2, and had been rehabilitating the injury until he was cleared to return to full contact in practice a week ago.
The Bucks are outside of the league’s top 10 in defensive efficiency for the first time in coach Mike Budenholzer‘s tenure, and part of the reason is that they’ve been playing without Lopez’s rebounding and rim protection.
Milwaukee is 42-26 and second in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat. Lopez was third in the NBA a year ago with 163 defensive box-outs, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
He also ranked second in field goal percentage allowed at the rim among 72 players to defend 200 shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only the Golden State Warriors‘ Draymond Green (47.3%) rated better than Lopez (49.3%).
Lopez averaged 12.3 points, five rebounds and 1.5 blocks a year ago.
Lopez’s deal will put the siblings on the same team for the first time in the NBA.
Lopez, a 7-foot center, saw his playing time decrease in each of his three seasons with the Chicago Bulls, and he averaged just 21.7 minutes in 2018-19 as Chicago increasingly gave its younger players more of a run.
Though Bulls coach Jim Boylenpraised Lopez for his professionalism and willingness to help Chicago’s young core while sacrificing his own stats, the Bulls had a roster crunch with big men, as 2018 lottery pick Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felicio previously had signed multi-year deals.
Lopez is entering his 12th NBA season, with previous stops with the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and the New York Knicks. He holds career averages 9.1 points, 5.3 assists and 1.2 blocks while shooting 53.1% from the field.
The 31-year-old half-Cuban American professional basketball player has agreed to a new four-year, $52 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN.
It’s possible that no single player changed his future more over the course of the last year than Lopez did by signing with the Bucks.
After the 2015-16 season — Lopez’s eighth in the NBA— he had gone a combined 3-for-21 from 3-point range. Since then, though, he has shot a staggering 1,224 three-pointers — including taking almost twice as many triples (512) as 2s (274) this past season with the Bucks.
And after signing with Milwaukee last year for their biannual exception, worth $3.4 million, Lopez became an essential part of the team’s remarkable turnaround this season and its elite units at both ends of the court.
That allowed Lopez to enter free agency this summer as one of the top free-agent centers on the market, and put him back in line for the kind of payday he received with his prior contract — a three-year, $60 million deal with the Brooklyn Netsin 2015.
In addition to setting career highs in 3-point makes, attempts and percentage (36.5) this past season, Lopez also averaged 12.5 points and a career-high 2.2 blocks per game.
The 24-year-old half-Cuban American Brooklyn Nets center has been named as an Eastern ConferenceAll-Star reserve by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Stern picked Lopez to replace Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who was voted in by the fans as a starter but will have to miss the rest of the season due to a right ACL tear last month.
Lopez, initially passed over for an All-Star spot, will now make his debut in that NBA mid-season showcase on February 17 at the Toyota Center in Houston. He will be Brooklyn’s lone representative.
“It’s a huge honor,” Lopez said in a statement after the Nets’ 105-85 home loss this week to the Miami Heat.
“First and foremost, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They make my job 100 times easier, playing with Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson), Gerald (Wallace), they gift wrap me buckets and take a lot of attention away from me on the court. It is something I have been working towards and it’s been a goal of mine and it will definitely be an exciting weekend.”
This season, Lopez is averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game – tops for his team in all three categories.
It looks like Brook Lopez will be center stage once again in Brooklyn…
The 24-year-old Cuban-American basketball player has reportedly agreed to a new contract with the Brooklyn Nets, where he’ll continue as the team’s center.
Terms of the contract haven’t been disclosed, but a league source told ESPNNewYork.com‘s Mike Mazzeo that Lopez, a restricted free agent, agreed to a four-year, $60 million max deal.
Nets general manager Billy King was in Los Angeles negotiating with Lopez’s agent, Arn Tellem, on Wednesday.
“Brook Lopez is one of the top young centers in the NBA,” King said. “We have witnessed his growth as a player over the past four years, and are very pleased that he will remain in a Nets uniform as we begin our new era in Brooklyn.”
Lopez played just five games last season because of foot and ankle injuries, averaging 19.2 points. He owns career averages of 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 251 career contests over five seasons — all with the Nets.