The Nets made the re-signings of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young official on Thursday morning, and also announced the additions of Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin. All four players were on hand at a Barclays Center press conference with General Manager Billy King.
King said of the plan he had going into the offseason, “These two guys here we wanted to bring back, and we wanted to add some youth with some athleticism, so getting Shane Larkin and Thomas Robinson gives us that, two guys that we looked over and followed as we wanted to add them. These guys give us some strength to our core.”
Brook Lopez, who signed a new 3-year, $60 million contract, is one of the best centers in the NBA, and took his game to another level this past season, when he averaged averages of 19.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 32.0 minutes per game after the All-Star break. Lopez’s season peaked during a two-week stretch in late March and early April when he captured back-to-back Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, becoming the first Net in more than a decade to accomplish the feat. He was an All-Star in 2013 i the Nets’ first year in Brooklyn.
Lopez said of coming back to the Nets, “Through negotiations, I made it clear that this is where I want to be. It’s been that way as long as I’ve been here. Very optimistic the way we played after the All-Star break, with the addition of Thad. We grew in a more positive way and I think we have a lot of opportunity this season to grow and reach those goals I mentioned. We have a lot of good pickups, with guys like T-Rob (referring to Thomas Robinson), and Shane (Larkin). I’m definitely thrilled to be back.”
Lopez said of taking three years instead of a longer five-year deal, “I talked to my agents and we just felt this was the best course for now. We didn’t want anything too long, we thought this was a nice medium between both, very short and extending all the way out.”
King said of players across the NBA taking shorter deals, “In negotiations, you go back and forth on it, and this is where we came. I think you saw a lot of players that weren’t too sure because of the uncertainty of where the cap may go in the future, so I think a lot of players are taking on money to make them comfortable, but also looking at their possible moves in the future depending on where the cap may go. If the league is doing great and growing revenues, and everyone saw the cap increase from the projections this year, so I think from the players’ standpoint, people get comfortable with some money, but also get the ability to go back into the market again.”
Lopez said of persistent trade rumors over the past few years and if that made him question the Nets’ commitment to him, “I was pretty confident on my end that I wanted to be here, there weren’t any other serious destinations, I suppose. We obviously worked something out, we’re committed to each other,” to which he then turned to King and the room erupted in laughter.
Lopez, 27, is the longest tenured Net, having played in the Izod Center and Prudential Center in New Jersey and then the Barclays Center. He has spent his entire seven-year career with the franchise after being selected with the 10th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. In 414 career games, including 379 starts, Lopez has registered averages of 17.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game. He currently ranks 4th on the Nets’ all-time scoring list (7,404 points), 6th in rebounds (3,029), 4th in field goals made (2,898), 2nd in blocked shots (724) and 8th in minutes played (13,439). Lopez has also elevated his game in the postseason, recording averages of 21.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 38.2 minutes per game in 13 career playoff contests.
Young, 27, returns to the Nets after joining the team by way of a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 19, 2015. In 28 games (20 starts) with the Nets, Young finished second on the team in points per game (13.8) and rebounds (5.9) and first in steals (1.4) in 29.6 minutes per game. He shot .495 from the field and .380 from three-point range while forming a strong frontcourt duo with Brook Lopez. In the 28 games Young appeared in, the Nets averaged 102.1 points per game, shooting .457 from the field and .353 from three-point range. Young was originally selected with the 12th pick of the 2007 NBA Draft by Nets GM King when he was the President and GM of the Philadelphia 76ers. In 592 career games (362 starts) with the 76ers (2007-14), Timberwolves (2014-15) and Nets (2015), Young holds NBA averages of 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.3 minutes per game. In 36 career postseason contests, Young has averaged 9.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 27.3 minutes per game.
Young said of coming back to Brooklyn, “I think, for me, it was just one of those things where it was just a mutual feeling between me and the team. I came here, did very well, we made the playoffs, there’s a lot of other things that we want to do as a team. The core me and Brook, we’ve discussed a lot of ways we can help this team potentially get to the championship some day.”
Young said of his thought process in coming back here, “After strong consideration from the wife and talking to the kids, they love Brooklyn, they love New York. It was one of those things where it was just, ‘I like Brooklyn, I like New York also, so let’s try to get something done as quick as possible.’ We worked it out, be ready and look for a place to stay, and I think it works out perfectly.”
Young said of playing with Lopez, “Me personally, the best part of my game is just being able to adapt to different situations, adapt to certain players on the court. I know Brook likes to linger around the paint a little bit and play all over the place sometimes, shooting jumpers close to the three-point line, but I’m just going to have a feel for the game.”
King said of their new signings, Robinson and Larkin, “We are excited to add both Thomas and Shane to our roster. Thomas is an aggressive rebounder who will add a physical presence to our frontcourt, while Shane provides athleticism at the point. Both are good young players who reaffirm our commitment to add youth to our roster for the 2015-16 campaign.”
Larkin (5’11”, 176) joins the Nets after spending the 2014-15 season with the New York Knicks. In 76 games (22 starts) with New York, Larkin recorded averages of 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 24.5 minutes per game. The 22-year-old was previously acquired by the Knicks after playing for the Dallas Mavericks during his rookie season. Larkin saw action in 48 games in his lone season in Dallas, averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 assists in 10.2 minutes per game. Originally selected with the 18th pick of the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, Larkin was traded on draft night to the Mavericks. Larkin spent two years at the University of Miami prior to entering the NBA. He was selected to the All-ACC Rookie team as a freshman and earned All-ACC First Team and All-ACC Defensive Team honors as a sophomore, helping to lead the Hurricanes to their first-ever regular season ACC championship and their first berth in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 in 13 years.
Larkin said of fitting in with the Nets, “I talked to Billy and Lionel (Hollins, head coach), and they told me they wanted me to just play my game. I’m more of a pick-and-roll guy, up and down, and that’s the things they told me they wanted me to come in and do. They told me they want me to come in and push up the tempo, bring energy to the team, it’s everything I wanted to hear. Glad we got it done so quickly, and just really excited about the opportunity.”
Larkin is the fifth point guard the Nets have on the roster, and King said of that, “Well, I look at basketball, you saw The Finals, I don’t think there was a natural position that people played. Throughout the playoffs, people were putting their best players on the floor, so that’s where we have to be in a position to do that. If it’s putting three guards out there, two point guards out there, it’s basketball. I think last year, we didn’t have the ability to match up with a lot of teams when they went smaller. I think now we have that ability.
Robinson (6’10”, 237) has posted averages of 5.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game in 194 career games split between Sacramento, Houston, Portland and Philadelphia. During the 2014-15 season, Robinson appeared in 54 games with the Trail Blazers and 76ers, averaging 5.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game. In his final 22 games of the season with Philadelphia, the 24-year-old Robinson increased his averages to 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game, registering seven double digit rebound games and three double-doubles. Robinson was originally selected with the fifth pick of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Kings after spending three years at Kansas. In his final season with the Jayhawks in 2011-12, the Washington D.C. native earned Associated Press First Team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year honors.