One year ago, Brook Lopez was a first-time All-Star for the Nets, recently signed to a four-year, $60 million contract.

But now, one week away from the NBA’s annual All-Star bash, Lopez is recuperating from his fourth surgical procedure on his right foot.

There are reasons for optimism. But there are reasons for caution.

For Yao Ming, Houston’s 7-foot-6 All-Star center, the NBA became a succession of injuries and surgeries on his left foot and ankle. There was a bone spur, toe inflammation, fractures to foot and ankle. Yao retired in July, 2011 after missing 250 games in his last six seasons.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland’s 7-foot-3 center, had run out of options. He had several operations on his twice-broken left foot before he underwent a procedure in 1999 when doctors reshaped his foot. Ilgauskas played 10 more seasons with the Cavaliers and Heat and was an All-Star twice.

Lopez, at 7-0, underwent surgery again in January. Doctors reconstructed his foot to re-distribute the weight and the pounding he sustains. There are absolutely no guarantees but Lopez is stridently optimistic.

“It’s going to work,” Lopez said this week in his first public comments since his Jan. 4 operation. “I’m definitely thinking that way. Some people say, ‘If this doesn’t work …’ I won’t think that. I’m definitely thinking the other way.”

So are surgeons and the Nets, despite Lopez’s history. Lopez broke his foot in December of the 2011-12 lockout season. He returned, played five games and sprained his ankle. Doctors discovered a hairline crack near the screw from his first surgery. Another procedure followed, then another to replace the screw.

So forgive those who harbor pessimism after Lopez broke his foot again Dec. 20. But there is legitimate hope this is not a last call.

“You always come up with another plan to get him to heal. But this is the best option for now,” said Dr. Jonathan Deland, the co-chief of the Foot and Ankle Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. “It’s not like if it doesn’t, you could never get it to heal. It would mean it’s a tougher case. So you put everything into getting this one to heal.”

Given Ilgauskas’ history, which involved a similar procedure, there is cause of optimism. But then you might consider Yao.

“Put it this way, if this doesn’t work, there’s really no ‘Plan C,’ ” said Dr. Andrew Brief, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon with the Ridgewood (N.J.) Orthopedic Group. “That being said, the expectation is it will work. But there aren’t that many other options after this.”

In nutshell form, the procedure is “not just a fixation of the fracture, it’s a total reconstruction of the foot to balance the mechanics better so it’s less likely to occur,” Brief said.

Lopez plans to be ready for training camp. At the moment, the man who played every game in his first three seasons is just looking to get out of the house. Before attending Thursday’s game, Lopez, in a walking boot and on crutches, had been outside twice since his surgery.

“Both times for doctor’s visits,” said Lopez, who will have new sneakers custom made. “They’re going to take new molds of my foot and then build my shoes.”

So as Lopez heals, doing what rehab he can, one other big man who endured ankle/foot miseries offered some advice.

“Never compare injuries, never compare body types and situations,” Hall of Famer Bill Walton said. “I’ve known Brook since he was young. … He played all the time his first three seasons, so he’s proven that he can get it done.

What has changed? Are these impact injuries? Are they stress fractures?

“I had a structural cognitive defect and my feet just broke,” Walton said. “The more I played, they would just ultimately break and I eventually ground my feet into dust. Both my ankles are fused now. But it’s wrong to compare careers, injuries. Every person is absolutely unique.”

That’s why, while there is genuine optimism for Lopez, there are no assurances. You buy a car, it runs. It may break down. You get it fixed. But it may break down again. After Lopez re-broke the fifth metatarsal bone (on the outside) surgeons performed a procedure that included a “first metatarsal osteotomy.” First, they fixed the fracture. Then they attacked the alignment that caused Lopez to run and place pressure on the outside of the foot.