The New Orleans Hornets acquired Robin Lopez in a sign & trade with the Phoenix Suns at the end of July. On Thursday, the local media finally got a chance to talk to the Hornets' new center.
"I’m excited to be here, we’ve got a young energetic group," Lopez said. "The great thing is we’ve got some youth with that has a little bit of experience as well. If you look at their age, you wouldn’t necessarily assume that t but it’s true. Hopefully we can parlay that into something special."
The Hornets get some much-needed size from the 7-foot-tall big man, and at just 24 years old, he has a ton of room to grow under head coach Monty Williams.
But what about the huge change in basketball philosophy he’s going to find in New Orleans? The Suns' up-tempo game was all about offense, while Hornets coach Williams preaches defense first.
"Actually, with the exception of Phoenix, in college and high school I always played with low-scoring, successful teams," Lopez said. "I was always a more defensive, grind it out type player, and I think that’s something I can defiantly get accustomed to here.
Ro-Lo has been an off-and-on starter since being drafted 15th overall in 2008. He played in a reserve role for the 64 games he was in last year, averaging 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, and 14 minutes a game.
With Lopez being the only "true" center on the Hornets, he could very well see his minutes climb in New Orleans. He has no problem with how many minutes he does get, but just hopes it doesn’t fluctuate too much.
"I find it’s a little rough to play maybe 30 minutes one game and then 12 minutes another game," he told us. "As long as they are good constituent minutes, I know what I’m supposed to do out there and I’m going to try and go out and do the same things. As long as they are consistent minutes for me, I’m good, I’m ok, whatever my role is that’s fine."
Earlier this month, after the sign & trade was complete, the Hornets' new center did go under the knife to correct a tear of his medial meniscus in his left knee. The surgery was deemed a success (Really...has there ever been an unsuccessful surgery announced?) Lopez commented on how rehab is going.
"Right now I’m feeling great, honestly. I think I’m going to play it safe obviously. We still have a bit to go before the season, so I’m not going to rush into anything. But that said I’m feeling good."
Lopez has had a rash of injuries in his young career, which is not a good sign, but is expected to recover fully and be ready for the start of training camp this fall.