The Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest absence over their first two games of the preseason, both figuratively and literally, has been center Brook Lopez.
Lopez, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, was widely expected to lead the Lakers in scoring the season and serve as both a reliable post presence and long-range threat on offense while functioning as the starting lineup’s primary rim protector on defense.
Instead Lopez has been sidelined with a back injury in the Lakers’ first two preseason games, and he admitted to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register that it hasn’t been easy to sit on the sidelines:
“It’s tough,” Lopez said. “I’m not always the best patient. I can definitely get frustrated, but I clearly understand that all of their decisions are for my best interests.”
Lopez chomping at the bit to get back in the lineup is understandable given how sorely the Lakers appear to be missing his particular set of skils. Lopez’s ability to space the floor from the center position (he shot 34.6 percent on threes last season) would open up the floor even further for Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram’s drives, which have often come in clogged lanes thus far during the preseason.
Likewise, his ability to get in the way at the rim would also help the Lakers’ defense, as well as his overall presence on the floor, would help contribute to team continuity on a roster that underwent a massive overhaul during the summer.
The good news for the Lakers is that it appears he won’t be out of the lineup much longer. Lopez practiced Tuesday and said afterward that he feels as though he’ll be able to make his debut for the Lakers game against the Sacramento Kings Sunday.