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Nets center Brook Lopez passes on final year of contract, chooses to become free agent

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets center has opted out of the final year of his contract and will become a free agent.

Coming off a strong season in his return from injury, Lopez chose Friday to bypass the $16.7 million he would have earned next season and will be able to talk to other teams on July 1.

Nets general manager said this week he expected the decision by Lopez and has said repeatedly he hopes to re-sign the 7-footer from Stanford. King added he was encouraged that Lopez has been working out at the Nets' practice facility.

Lopez averaged 17.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in 72 games, winning back-to-back Eastern Conference player of the week awards late in the season. He had appeared in just 17 games the previous season before breaking his foot.

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