The Shannon Brown Dilemma: How Will the L.A. Lakers Resolve This Situation?
Finding competent point guard help, depth in the post and adjusting to a new head coach are some of the Lakers' more pressing concerns.
But resolving their situation with reserve guard Shannon Brown is also of high importance.
Brown's decision to opt out of his contract erased any trade leverage the Lakers held, and now the team must decide if Brown plays any role in its efforts going forward.
Brown has never averaged double-digit scoring in any of his five professional seasons, but his tendency for spectacular plays keeps Lakers fans enthralled with his potential.
Brown's athleticism, quickness and leaping ability suggest he has all the tools to be an impact player for the Lakers, but he still lacks true consistency in his game.
Every breathtaking dunk by Brown is countered by the occasional lapse on defense or an ill-advised shot from the perimeter.
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson wanted Brown to play a more prominent role last season, but he often looked lost in the triangle offense.
However, Brown's talents may be better suited to new head coach Mike Brown's less structured offensive scheme.
Mike Brown's motion offense is based on dribble-drive penetration from the perimeter, while Shannon Brown's quick first step and spot-up ability make him a natural fit in the scheme.
The up-tempo pace of Coach Brown's offense is another favorable aspect when it comes to Shannon's game since he usually thrives in transition or in the open court.
Brown averaged 8.7 points per game last season, a career high, and he was probably the team's most dependable player off the bench after Lamar Odom.
The failure of the Steve Blake experiment last season elevates Brown's value to the Lakers, as does his ability to serve as a secondary ball-handler.
Derek Fisher's time as the Lakers' starting point guard should be done.
While Blake may be a steadier ball-handler than Brown, Brown's all-around game affords his team a better chance to win.
The Lakers' bench will be painfully thin next season. Unless younger players like Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter and 2011 daft picks Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock quickly develop, Brown will still play a key reserve role.
Until the NBA lockout ends, no one knows if Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and team president Jim Buss feel the same way about Brown.
Brown has not expressed feelings about what his intentions are beyond saying he wants to play for a title contender.
The Lakers are definitely a title contender if Brown decides to stay, and they may be one even if he leaves.
The real question is, how much does Brown think his services are worth, and do the Lakers value him enough to meet his demands?
Brown is a decent player, and if he does bolt from Los Angeles, the Lakers will be a little worse off for it. But Brown will never be the reason the Lakers win or lose a championship, and his future with the team could hinge on that fact.
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