Shannon Brown Says It Would 'Make a Lot of Sense' to Opt Out, Return to L.A.
Brown last summer signed a two-year, $4.148 million deal using the biannual exception. He's making $1.99 million this season and has a player option worth $2.149 million for next season.
The general assumption is that Brown will opt out and seek a new deal because it remains to be seen what the NBA landscape will be when the current collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, 2011, and there could be a lockout. So is the assumption correct it would make sense for Brown to opt out?
"It would definitely make a lot of sense with how my contract is,'' Brown said in an interview with FanHouse before Saturday's Game 4 of a West first-round series against Oklahoma City. "It would make a lot of sense. But I'm going to play the rest of these games out and then think about it then.''
One thing is for sure. Brown, who said his contract situation is in "the back of my mind,'' said he wants to remain next season with the Lakers.
"Oh yeah,'' he said. "I don't want to go nowhere. I definitely want to stay here.''
It could be a good summer to be a free-agent Lakers guard. Derek Fisher, 35, will be an unrestricted free agent and Jordan Farmar will be a restricted free agent so the Lakers are going to have to get some backcourt guys under contract.
If Brown, by averaging 3.2 points, did enough in 2008-09 to earn $1.99 million, it would figure his 8.1 regular-season average would earn him a decent raise this summer if he were to opt out. Because he would be an early-Bird free agent if he opts out, the Lakers could exceed the salary cap and pay Brown next season as much as the mid-level exception, which is $5.854 million this season.
"You never know with this business,'' Brown said when asked if he's done enough this season to get a hefty raise. "I've just got to do what I do on the court and let everything else fall how it may. It's not really up to me to say what I've done because I know what I've done. It's up to the other people to see that.''
For now, Brown's minutes have been cut in the postseason to an 11.7 average in the first three games, after he averaged 20.7 during the regular season. Brown is playing with a right thumb injury, which has affected his shot. And it's understandable Lakers coach Phil Jackson has shortened his rotation a bit in the postseason.
"We still see him as having an effective role,'' said Jackson, saying Brown only got 10 minutes in Game 3 because Thunder small forward Kevin Durant got in foul trouble in the first quarter, which led to a chain reaction that affected Brown's minutes.
In the first three playoff games, Brown averaged 4.7 points on 5-of-12 shooting. He admits his shot hasn't been the same since he suffered his thumb injury March 2 against Indiana.
"It's a tear and it's a bone bruise,'' Brown said. "It's getting better slowly, but it still hurts to dribble and shoot. It affects me on the catch. I don't always catch it clean. On the release. I'm constantly working on my shot trying to get a tolerance for the pain where it doesn't bother me. But it's something that I'm going to have to play with for the duration of the season.''
Brown hopes he won't need surgery this summer.
"I hope that's not the first, second or third option,'' he said. "I hope it heals on its own. I get heat on it every day.''
The Lakers hope there will be a time for Brown to shine in the postseason, after a regular season in which he 10 times scored 15 or more points, including getting career highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds Feb. 16 against Golden State in relief of an injured Kobe Bryant. That came just three days after Brown had competed in the slam-dunk contest during All-Star Weekend, finishing tied for third and last.
In Game 5 of the West finals last spring, with the series tied 2-2, Brown threw down a thunderous dunk over Denver's Chris Andersen. That cut the Lakers' deficit to 73-70 late in the third quarter, and gave them much-needed momentum in winning that game and eventually closing out the Nuggets in six games.
"He brings athleticism,'' said Lakers forward Pau Gasol. "He brings activity ... I know his thumb has been bothering him, and he hasn't been the same. ... Hopefully he can hit a couple of jumpers, and that will be good.''
Everything Brown can do in the playoffs can do nothing but help his resume for the likely event he opts out of his contract this summer.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson