With sources confirming that All-Star center Brook Lopez will be out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury, should we now be expecting a drastic increase in Mason Plumlee‘s role in the Brooklyn Nets’ rotation?
It certainly is a ton of minutes to disperse, with Lopez averaging 31.4 minutes per game on the year, and Plumlee is second in line to receive a minutes boost, following center Andray Blatche.
As it stands, the Nets have four options:
- Sign a free agent.
There isn’t much to be found in the D-League or free agency, and there definitely won’t be anything better than their current combination of Blatche/Plumlee.
Bill Simmons talked about this on Twitter, mentioning that the Nets have virtually nothing to use as a trade chip. They lack valuable picks and prospects, and you’d have to think that any trade would end up involving Plumlee. Simmons mentions Javale McGee as a ‘panic-move’ option. If Brooklyn plays it smart, they’ll opt to ride it out with Blatche and Plumlee, rather than going the trade route.
- Play small.
This will be a much more realistic option if Kirilenko can stay healthy, but he hasn’t played since early November, and there is no telling how effective the 32-year old will be when he returns. A combination of Williams-Johnson-Pierce-Garnett-Blatche, with Kirilenko as the sixth man, might work, but that rotation features so many injuries that I can’t imagine the Nets would feel comfortable relying on it moving forward.
- Chop his minutes up and sort them between Plumlee, Blatche, Teletovic, and Evans
The Nets have been all over the place in their minute distribution between Plumlee, Teletovic, and Evans, but the Lopez injury could easily force all three into a more permanent and consistent role. Of all four options, this would be the most preferable for the Nets on both a short-term and long-term basis, as it allows them to develop Plumlee, get a better look at Teletovic, and avoid giving up anything of value in a trade.
As Simmons pointed out, however, the Nets expected to make a serious run at a championship this season, and the Eastern Conference is in such a poor state that the Nets may trick themselves into thinking they still have a chance at salvaging the season, which could lead to a silly, costly trade.
Obviously, the fourth and most realistic option works out best for Plumlee, who we should see in an increased role for the rest of the season. The rookie currently averages 6.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per contest while holding a 16.16 PER.