Weighing the pros and cons of Shannon Brown likely opting out of his contract
Brown has to let the Lakers know his decision by Thursday, but General Manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear before the NBA draft last week that they're proceeding as if he doesn't plan to return next year.
"My guess, and it's only a guess, is he will choose not to extend one more year," Kupchak said during the NBA draft last week at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "Not knowing the answer to that at this time, we're probably going to look to add a player to our backcourt."
The Lakers did just that. With their 41st pick, they drafted Darius Morris, a 6-foot-4 guard and former Windward High player who finished as the Big Ten's leader in assists (4.2 per game) his sophomore season at the University of Michigan. With their 46th pick, the Lakers drafted Andrew Goudelock, a 6-foot-3 combo guard who finished as College of Charleston's all-time leading scorer (2,571) and shot 45.5% from three-point range in his senior season. And whenever the impending lockout comes to a close, the Lakers plan to add "tweaks" to their roster, presumably addressing the team's backcourt.
Meanwhile, Brown remains uncertain about his future.
"I'm still trying to figure it out," Brown told The Times' Broderick Turner last week. "I'm trying to make sure it's the right decision for me and my family. It's not an easy thing."
Likewise, it's not an easy thing to assess whether this would be a good thing or a bad thing for the Lakers because there's plenty of variables in play. Below the jump are a look at some of those.
With Mike Brown's hope to add more speed to his offense, Shannon Brown perfectly fits that type. While most of the Lakers' aging roster play at a methodical pace, Shannon Brown runs up and down the floor immediately shifting into fifth gear. Shannon Brown would ease that transition into Mike Brown's hope that the Lakers can set up their offense within the first three or four seconds of the shot clock. Should the Lakers buy into the new coach's highly praised defensive system, Shannon Brown is one of the team's most reliable finishers on fast breaks.
The other added benefit points to familiarity. The Lakers may have better options in replacing Shannon Brown's services, but with an impending lockout slated to begin Friday, teams can't do anything to their rosters and they also don't know what kind of finances they'll have to acquire players during free agency. Shannon Brown's $2.37-million price tag is modest (in player terms of course) and is something the team may have anticipated absorbing before it became clear Shannon Brown likely won't return. Considering the uncertainty about how long the lockout will actually last, it'll be easier to already have a roster spot locked up. Sure, the Lakers drafted Morris and Goudelock partly because of the possible void Brown will leave on the roster, but it's not guaranteed either of the rookies will make the roster.
Why the Lakers would benefit from Brown leaving
Last year, Brown opted out of his contract to test the free-agency waters and the Lakers re-signed him. Other teams only provided what The Times' Mike Bresnahan described as a "lukewarm" response, but the Lakers decided to keep him because of their belief that he'd continue to grow as a player. After a hot shooting month to start the season, Brown soon became incredibly inconsistent with his shooting stroke and with his defensive lapses. That's why the Lakers won't really be inclined to try to keep him should be opt out of his current contract.
Some may argue that a long offseason will give Brown plenty of time to develop himself into an all-around player. Some may also believe that Brown will finally realize his stubborn attitude in not adjusting his game during the season partly contributed to his poor 2010-2011 season. I believe Brown will once become more of a complete player. But the Lakers need to acquire pieces that will enable them to squeeze out one or two more championships before the contracts of most of their core players expire. Not only are there better players in the open market than Brown, the Lakers currently have other reserves that fit their backcourt needs more than Brown does.
The Lakers appear to be grooming Devin Ebanks to become a shooting guard and his athleticism, defense and work ethic appear he's going to grow. It's uncertain what Morris and Goudelock will provide, let alone whether they'll make a roster spot, but their skill-set alone proves more valuable than Brown's athleticism. Even though Morris lacks much of that, his playmaking abilities should help open up the floor. Likewise, Goudelock appears to be part of the answer to the Lakers' poor outside shooting, something Brown didn't help with after a solid first month of the season.
-- Mark Medina
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Top photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown. Brown has to tell the Lakers by Thursday whether he'll exercise his $2.37-million option to return to the team next season. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown is known for his speed and athleticism. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire /