According to CBS Sports.com’s Ken Berger, the Knicks have made an offer to Laker free agent Shannon Brown. The Lakers have said they’d like to keep Brown, but because they’re far over the luxury cap, whatever they offer him they’ll have to pay exactly the same amount in luxury taxes. Their projected salary for next year is more than $92.5 million, which’d leave them having to pay $22 million additional dollars in taxes for a total of over $114.5 million. Them’s a lot of bones.
That of course doesn’t even count however much the new deal with coach Phil Jackson is (somewhere between $5-12 million). Brown would’ve made $2.15 million this year if he hadn’t opted out of his contract, so presumably he wants a bump up to at least $2.5 million, which’d translate into $5 million for the Lakers. Their hesitancy is understandable. To save money (and thus feel okay about resigning Brown), the Lakers are trying to get rid of the $5.5 million contract of Sasha Vujacic.
How much the Knicks offered Brown are unknown, but according to the Berger article it seems like one of their selling points is that he could vie for the starting shooting guard spot (presumably having to beat out Wilson Chandler and newcomer Kelenna Azubuike).
Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about the signing. Brown’s a good player, but do we need another supporting piece? My issues:
While he’s certainly got amazing ups, he shot a pedestrian .328 from three-point range last season, and the ability to hit the long ball is a necessity in Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. If Brown couldn’t shoot better than that with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest all drawing the defense’s attention, it’s hard to imagine that Amar’e Stoudemire, Ray Felton and Ronny Turiaf will create any easier shots.
Brown also is theoretically listed as a point guard, but only moved to shooting guard due to the Lakers’ growing distrust of Vujacic as the backup. At 6’4″, Shannon’s tall for a point guard, but pretty short to play the two spot. And besides that phenomenal leaping ability, does he bring anything new to the team that our current possible twos don’t? If we’ve got a fast-break going, yes, Brown will look more impressive on the finish, but it ain’t like Wilson Chandler couldn’t throw one down just as easily.
While we might only be offering him $2.5 million, unless it’s just a one year deal (or a two year deal where the team has an option for the second one), I don’t think it’s in our best interest to add to our salary. After years of us being crazily over the cap, it’s nice that we’re not only under it now, but due to Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, we’ll be under it again next summer too. This enables us to at least have a shot at signing big free agents like Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker, or down the road Chris Paul. Sure, if you’ve got a shot at a potentially really good player (like Anthony Randolph), you commit to them now rather than dream “what if” about future signings. However, this will already be Brown’s fifth year in the league, and although he definitely can (and should improve), he seems unlikely to ever truly explode into All-Star material. While his contract would be reasonable, it reminds me of how in the past we filled up excessive cap space with Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley and Jared Jeffries types.
Both here and in Phoenix, Coach Mike D’Antoni has shown he prefers a shorter rotation of players, often maxing out at just using eight of ‘em. With Toney Douglas set to back up Ray Felton, Brown would mostly be looking at minutes at shooting guard, as mentioned above. However, in the swing positions of the two and three we’ve already got Azubuike, Chandler, Bill Walker and Danilo Gallinari. Someone’s gonna have to lose out on minutes big-time, leaving some unhappy players in the locker room. If instead we sign our second-round pick Landry Fields as the fifth man in the rotation, one can presume that he’d be happy just to make the roster and wouldn’t mind the lack of minutes.