Brook Lopez participated in Wednesday morning’s practice, but is unlikely to play in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Honda Center in Anaheim, according to Head Coach Luke Walton. “Brook probably won’t play on Saturday, so there’s still a starting spot open for that game”, mused Walton when asked if any of the positions in the starting lineup were up for grabs.
Lopez is not cleared for contact drills, but looked fluid and comfortable in the 5-on-0 Shell Offense that the Lakers were running today, as well as in an individual post play competition that Ivica Zubac eventually won. The bigs then moved on to jumpers from the top of the key (although not behind the 3-point line), where the first player to four swishes (not makes, swishes) was the winner. Lopez shot very well, but barely grazed the back of the rim on a couple of makes, causing him to jump away in playful disgust. While I’m certainly no doctor, I thought he looked spry, and so did Walton.
“He was flying up and down the court.” – Luke Walton on Brook Lopez
While we can frame this news with as much optimism as we’d like, the fact remains that something isn’t quite right with his back. Andrew Bogut is also dealing with visa issues, so the starting Center position on Saturday will likely be manned by either Ivica Zubac or Thomas Bryant. With 19 players in camp (Bogut could not practice), the 5-on-0 drills consisted of four separate units, including a grouping of Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Brook Lopez, and Larry Nance, Jr. The most notable omission from that group is Julius Randle, but Walton emphasized that he’s simply trying out different combinations to see which units thrive.
“What we’ll do is figure out what groups play the best together, and those will be the ones that get more minutes.” – Luke Walton on his lineups
Those groups will not include Brook Lopez for the time being, and as I recently outlined, that will be very problematic for this team is that persists into the regular season, but Lopez moved quite well in today’s morning session.
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