Suns exercise fourth-year option for C Lopez

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Phoenix Suns' Amare Stoudemire, left, and teammate Robin Lopez look on during practice for their NBA first-round playoff basketball series on Friday, April 23, 2010, in Portland, Ore.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) By Rick Bowmer Phoenix Suns' Amare Stoudemire, left, and teammate Robin Lopez look on during practice for their NBA first-round playoff basketball series on Friday, April 23, 2010, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) By Rick Bowmer

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns have picked up the fourth-year option for Robin Lopez, keeping the center under contract through the 2011-12 season.

The 7-footer from Stanford, whose twin brother Brook plays for the New Jersey Nets, was Phoenix's first-round draft pick in 2008, the 15th selection overall.

After a spotty rookie season, Lopez blossomed on offense and defense after coach Alvin Gentry inserted him into the starting lineup on Jan. 18. The Suns were 22-9 with Lopez as a starter.

During that time, he averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game before he was sidelined with a back injury in late March.

This season, Lopez fills a more important role as the only true big player in the Phoenix lineup following the departure of Amare Stoudemire to the New York Knicks.