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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21:  Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets looks to pass against the New York Knicks during their pre season game  at Madison Square Garden on December 21, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Brook Lopez.

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Brook Lopez Is Hurt Again, Which Could Complicate Things

It's been a busy couple of days for the Nets. Mikhail Prokhorov failed to get elected as president of Russia, to no one's surprise. Deron Williams dropped 57 points on the Bobcats, setting a franchise record. Just today, the Nets staff began the gradual move to Brooklyn. The way things are with the Nets, though, everything comes back to the pursuit of Dwight Howard, and that pursuit may have been slightly complicated with today's news. Any trade for Howard will probably have to include Brook Lopez. Lopez — who finally returned from a broken right foot two weeks ago and has played just five games this year — went and hurt himself again last night. Thankfully, X-rays were negative, but the injury was determined to be a sprained right ankle and is expected to stick poor Brook back in a walking boot and on the sideline for three weeks.

Three weeks ... that would take us to the last week of March, right? And the trade deadline is when? March 15th? This could complicate matters. The Nets, according to Ken Berger, are still considered a front-runner to land Howard should the Magic make him available. Certainly, teams have traded for injured players before, and a three-week absence doesn't spell doom. It certainly doesn't help, though. This season could have been one in which Lopez — who hadn't missed a single game in his first three seasons as a pro — cemented his value as a center. (And he played pretty nicely in those five games between injuries, one of which was against the Magic). Instead, he sustained two fairly significant injuries to the same limb and saw very little court time as a result.

Again, this could mean nothing. If the Magic fancied Lopez, they probably still fancy him. If they didn't, they surely still don't. If they were undecided, though (and it does sound like they're still very much unsure of what they're going to do with Howard), another injury to Lopez doesn't help the Nets' chances. At least it wasn't something season-ending or warranting more surgery, right?

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Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images