The Los Angeles Lakers made a big move this summer when they traded young guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for sweet-shooting center Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft, which was used to select Kyle Kuzma.
While the move was done with an eye towards freeing up cap space in the summer of 2018, when star free agents like LeBron James and Paul George will be available, Lopez is also seen as a massive upgrade for the team in the here and now.
Surprisingly, Lopez showed an uncanny ability to shoot threes last season despite the shot not being part of his arsenal during his previous eight seasons in the NBA. The bruising big man adapted to the modern game by canning 1.8 threes per game last season at a 35 percent clip, putting him at the top of the class for centers.
Unfortunately, it sounds as though the Lakers may be without their new starting center for part of preseason, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports that he is dealing with back issues:
Lopez, 29, has been remarkably durable in recent years, appearing in at least 72 games four out of the past five seasons. However, he has dealt with back issues this summer that could cause him to miss part of the preseason.
Back issues are never easy to deal with, especially for a player who stands seven feet tall and weighs 275 pounds. While the Lakers would love for Lopez to take part in preseason, they are unlikely to rush him into minutes in games that won’t make a difference on their season.
The injury to Lopez may partially explain the team’s decision to sign veteran big man Andrew Bogut to a one-year, partially guaranteed deal. Should Lopez need to miss time, Bogut could fill in as a stop-gap.