Brooklyn Nets: 3 keys for season’s final two months

Brook Lopez is a candidate to be traded before Thursday's deadline.
Brook Lopez is a candidate to be traded before Thursday’s deadline. Photo Credit: Robert Stridiron

On Wednesday, the last-place Nets (9-47) traded small forward Bojan Bogdanovic for guard Marcus Thornton, forward Andrew Nicholson and, most importantly, a lottery-protected first-round pick in this year’s draft. With 26 games left this season, Brooklyn would be wise to continue rebuilding.

Brook Lopez‘s future remains in question, while Jeremy Lin is preparing to put months of hamstring issues behind him. Here are the Nets’ three keys for the remainder of this season.

Brook’s future

Brook Lopez has continued to produce for the Nets in 2017. He scored a season-high 36 points against the Bucks in Brooklyn’s last game before the break and is averaging 20.8 points.

But with the Nets likely to focus on rebuilding, Lopez’s future remains unclear. Discussions with the Pelicans fell through after Monday’s blockbuster DeMarcus Cousins trade. But ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Tuesday that the Nets have lowered their asking price for the 28 year-old big man, now seeking a first- and a second-round pick in return.

Lin’s return

Five years after Linsanity, Jeremy Lin’s return to the Big Apple was supposed to give the Nets a solid point guard capable of facilitating an offense anchored by Lopez. Instead, his strained left hamstring has kept him sidelined as his team struggled mightily.

After months of rehab, Lin finally returned to practice last week and is set to play after the break is over. He will help stabilize a position partially split by young guards Spencer Dinwiddie and rookie Isaiah Whitehead. Together, their combined scoring equals Lin’s production this season.

Developing youth

Speaking of Brooklyn’s young talent, Lin’s return may not result in much of a reduction in minutes for Dinwiddie, Whitehead and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. If Lopez is traded, his absence would likely open the door for Brooklyn’s young trio to earn more time.

Dinwiddie, 23, scored a season-high 19 points and eight assists on Feb. 15. His extra minutes in games leading up to the break should be a model for Hollis-Jefferson and Whitehead, who will benefit from additional exposure and shooting opportunities.