L.A. Lakers guard Shannon Brown had an excellent start to the 2010-2011 regular season by showing off his athleticism and his newly acquired three-point shooting. After the first two months of the season, his production declined considerably due to his predictability on offense and his overplaying on defense.
Brown has an early termination option in his contract for $2.4 million. General manager Mitch Kupchak expects Brown to test the free-agent waters as he did last season and due to the lack of cap space on the Lakers' end, signing him to the contract he may be seeking will be difficult.
In a perfect world, the Lakers would like Brown to remain in Los Angeles by signing an extension to keep his athleticism, excitement and youth with the Lakers. The Lakers will definitely need a quality guard to replace Brown in the rotation—someone to provide scoring off the bench and allow Mike Brown to massage Kobe Bryant's minutes.
I know Michael Redd is one of the guys most fans will mark down as a big disappointment. Although Redd has been largely unproductive during the last two seasons due to injury, I believe he is still a solid player. He's one of those veterans that can help any contending team get closer to a championship.
Last season, the Lakers had a hard time finding scoring off the bench. Redd will be able to make spot-up jump shots off of the penetration of Lamar Odom and the inside-out play of either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum.
By signing Redd, the Lakers also acquire a player who can knock down the three-ball on a regular basis. Redd is a proven three-point threat and he can finish games at SG when Kobe slides down to the SF and goes to work in the fourth.
The Lakers can sign Redd at a cheap price, especially after he's coming off of that huge contract. Half of the mid-level exception may be enough to lure Redd to Los Angeles.
Redd isn't the youngest or most athletic player the Lakers can sign. Redd will be 32 whenever the season begins and with the need for youth and athleticism, the Lakers won't be acquiring it with Redd.
The injury bug has stung Michael Redd and it isn't known how healthy the knees are but when it comes to backup guards, the Lakers can do much worse.
Aaron Afflalo is a young guard that any team would love to have on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He may be the the best all-around shooting guard in free agency with his ability to knock down open shots and play excellent on-ball defense. His youth and toughness will be welcomed with open arms in Los Angeles.
Afflalo could definitely start at small forward if Ron Artest has a season like the one he had last year. He's not the scorer off the bench that can create his own shot that the Lakers need, but he's a very solid player that no team should want to pass up.
J.R. Smith is the best example of the best and the worst all packaged in one. His superior offensive abilities are only trumped by his immaturity and bad attitude. You could see him visually quit on the court during games.
J.R. Smith never met a shot that he didn't like but he can make them. Kobe Bryant is really gonna have to teach Smith a thing or two about how to handle himself in this league. His offensive talent can definitely help the Lakers off the bench late in games.
Whole mid-level exception will definitely be needed to sign Smith, but are his great talents worth dealing with his bad attitude?
J-Rich is a veteran that is looking to win a championship and Los Angeles could be the place he can accomplish his goals. Richardson has never come off the bench full-time in his career but this may be an opportunity that he can't pass up.
He can play the shooting guard and small forward position and he has a three-point stroke that the Lakers desperately need. His occasion slams will ignite the Los Angeles crowd. Richardson is a complete offensive threat but his strong suit is his spot-up shooting.
J-Rich is sure to play in the fourth alongside Kobe Bryant and make a difference in close games off of the attention Kobe will receive.
A deal similar to Steve Blake's should satisfy him.
Crawford is a pure scorer that is fine with playing the role of sixth man. His instant offense and ability to play both the point guard and the shooting guard positions can be vital to the Lakers next few championship runs. At the end of games he can play the PG if Ron Artest is needed to guard the other team's best perimeter player or he can play the SG if the Lakers decide to go small in the fourth.
Crawford's ability to penetrate the defense is something the Lakers have been lacking due to the decline of Kobe Bryant and him taking more caution with his body. He and Odom will star on what would definitely be a top-five bench in the league.
Signing Crawford may cost close to (if not) the entire mid-level exception but it will prove to be worth it.