Shannon Brown to remain a Laker

brown

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Lakers backup point guard Shannon Brown has agreed to a two-year deal worth $4.2 million that includes a player option in the second year. Brown initially impressed Laker fans in the final third of the regular season and saw considerable playing time in the first round of the playoffs against the Jazz.

On a day in which Kobe Bryant spoke out on a variety of topics, including his own contract, the Lakers pared their unrestricted free agents down to one after Brown agreed to take $4.2 million over the next two years, with the second year his option.

Meanwhile, Brown declined a more lucrative offer from Indiana to stay with the Lakers, said his agent, Mark Bartelstein.

“This is where he wanted to be,” Bartelstein said. “The Lakers treated him well during his short time there, and he hopes to continue and improve his game.”

Brown, 23, was a throw-in with Adam Morrison in the February trade that sent Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte, but he became a fan favorite with his hustle and surprisingly powerful dunks. He made $796,000 last season.

Brown went scoreless in the NBA Finals, playing in only three games because of Derek Fisher’s increased playing time, though he had better stats earlier in the playoffs, including 7.2 points a game in the first round against Utah.

This is a great signing for the Lakers who seem to be getting bigger by the year. With the acquisition of Ron Artest, and assuming they resign Lamar Odom, the Lakers will cut quite an imposing figure down low with the aforementioned players, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum.

What they’ve been lacking is a point guard they can rely on. With Derek Fisher in the twilight of his career and Jordan Farmar refusing to live up to his potential, Shannon Brown is a great option. At only 23, Brown has time to develop his game over the next two seasons as he will likely see a fair amount of playing time each game.

The L.A. fans quickly took to Brown due to his hustle and sweet shot. When you’re bench consists of mid-level and overpaid athletes such as Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic, Brown’s $2.1 million a year contract is quite a deal.

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Which NBA teams will have cap space this summer?

The NBA free agency period starts July 1st, and as that date approaches I’ll preview this year’s free agent class in more detail. But for now, I’d like to take a look at which teams have the cap flexibility to be major players in free agency this summer. (Mind you, just because a team has cap space, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll use it. Just sayin’.)

Not familiar with the NBA salary cap? Here’s a quick primer…

1. The cap for the 2008-09 season was $58.7 million. The general consensus is that the cap will stay flat or decrease slightly. We’ll assume it sticks at $58.7 million.

2. If a team is over the cap, the only free agents they can sign are their own, unless they elect to sign a player to the mid-level exception (~$5.8 million per season), the bi-annual exception (~$2.0) or to a minimum contract. (The bi-annual exception may not be used in two consecutive years.)

3. If a team is under the cap, they can sign any free agent they want as long as they do not exceed the cap. They can also take on salary via trade up to the cap, so a team like the Grizzlies (with almost $20 million in cap space) could conceivably trade their first round pick to the Suns for Amare Stoudemire or to the Raptors for Chris Bosh.

Here’s a list of the bigger names in the free agent pool this summer:

Unrestricted: Carlos Boozer, Ben Gordon, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andre Miller, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Hedo Turkoglu, Allen Iverson, Mehmet Okur, Rasheed Wallace, Mike Bibby, Anderson Varejao, Grant Hill, Kyle Korver, Trevor Ariza, Brandon Bass, Chris Andersen, Zaza Pachulia, Chris Wilcox and Drew Gooden

Restricted: David Lee, Paul Millsap, Ray Felton, Josh Childress*, Marvin Williams, Glen Davis, Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva, Nate Robinson, Leon Powe, Hakim Warrick, Linas Kleiza, Jarrett Jack and Shannon Brown

* It appears that if Childress does return to the NBA, the Hawks still hold his rights, so he would be a restricted free agent.

There are eight teams that project to have more than $5.8 million (the value of the mid-level exception) in cap space this summer:

Memphis Grizzlies
Projected Cap Space: $19.7 million
Memphis has been reluctant to spend for several years now and is probably one of the franchises that’s struggling the most in the current economy. I lived in Memphis for three years, and given its small size and overall lack of wealth, I always thought that it would struggle to support a professional sports team. With a core of Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies have to feel pretty good about what they have at off guard, small forward and center. The big decision this summer is what to do with restricted free agent Hakim Warrick. When dealing with bad teams, numbers can be deceptive, because no matter what, somebody has to score and rebound, right? Warrick’s PER (16.91) is #24 amongst power forwards, so ideally he’d be coming off the bench for a playoff team. The Grizzlies projected cap space assumes they make the qualifying offer to Warrick ($3.0 million). Memphis is one of those teams that could really use the services of a Carlos Boozer, David Lee or Paul Millsap, but in this economy, are the Grizzlies willing to make that kind of a commitment? They could try to make a run at Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire next summer, but the odds are long that either guy would want to play for the Grizzlies.

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