The NBA is about to lock out its workforce, and no one's sure what the free-agent market will look like once the league's labor issues are resolved. One man who seems undaunted by the shifting terrain is Shannon Brown. Today Shannon formally opted out of his contract with the Lakers, a move that's been rumored for at least a week, choosing instead to become a free agent. Shannon would've earned $2.37 million next season had he stayed in Lakerdom.
His return to the Lakers remains a possibility, as he could always sign a new deal with the team as a free agent (the new CBA permitting). In fact, that's what happened a year ago, when he opted out to test the 2010 free-agent market. The Cleveland Cavaliers showed interest in his services, but he shrewdly steered clear of that nightmare. The Lakers, for their part, sought to replace him with Raja Bell, but when Raja signed with the Utah Jazz for more money, they and Shannon rekindled their love for each other and agreed to another short-term deal. It's possible a similar sequence of events will play out again.
The circumstances, though, are different this time around. The Lakers just drafted Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, a pair of young guards who conceivably could step into backcourt-reserve roles. And a year ago, the Lakers were coming off a second-straight championship and gearing up for Phil Jackson's final season, a situation that justified keeping the band together. After their horrific playoff beating at the hands of the Mavericks and Phil's subsequent retirement, there's now a more forward-looking approach to the team's roster construction. At this point the Lakers have a pretty good handle on who Shannon Brown is - an occasionally thrilling, frequently exasperating backup guard, nothing more and nothing less - and that player isn't good enough to justify sucking minutes away from Morris and Goudelock.
Until the lockout ends, both Shannon and the Laker depth chart will remain in limbo. If this is the end of his time in Los Angeles, it's been a good run. Originally thought of as a throw-in to the Adam Morrison trade, he was a contributor to two championship teams and always comported himself like a pro. Whether or not we've seen the last of him in purple and gold, we wish him the best.
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