Mitch Kupchak's Next Move for the Los Angeles Lakers

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJuly 18, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 29:  (L-R) NBA legend Jerry West shakes hands with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak after defeating the Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 100-92 in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs on May 29, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With the bulk of free agency winding down, there isn’t much for the Lakers to choose from.

However, with a solid core, the reigning two-time NBA champions do not need very much.

While the dog days of summer have finally hit Los Angeles, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak needs to remain cool and collected as he dials around the league to see who is and is not available.

At the very top of his docket is the need to sign Shannon Brown to a two-year, $4.2 million contract ($2.1 million per year). This is essentially the contract that Brown opted from earlier this month. 

However, Brown hasn’t found that much interest around the league as he has been damaged by a spotty performance in the playoffs. Nevertheless, Brown is a hard-working player with a good deal of upside and a positive work ethic. He could prove to be a valuable asset to a lot of teams if the price is right.

Another hard-working player, who like Brown has been spotty at times, is Sasha Vujacic. He has one year remaining on his three-year $15 million contract.

Kupchak can package these two and offer them to the Lakers’ main rival, the Boston Celtics, in return for Nate Robinson. The Celtics have just re-signed Robinson to a two-year, $8 million contract.

The math is pretty close: the Celtics are eight million for Robinson and the Lakers $9.2 million for Vujacic and Brown. The Celtics will be able to take Vujacic’s $5 million off the books at the end of the season.

Or the Lakers could sign Brown for one year at $2.5 million. That would give the Celtics $7.5 million coming off the books next June.

The Lakers have also expressed an interest in the Pacers’ Earl Watson. If the Celtics turn down the Vujacic and Brown for Robinson trade, Kupchak can see if he can work out a deal for Watson.

The Pacers would have to sign their free agent point-guard, who made $2.8 million last season, then trade him to the Lakers for Brown. Or, they could sign him to a two-year contract and trade him for Vujacic.

At least the Pacers would get something in return.

Perhaps the Bobcats would be interested in hearing about the Vujacic and Brown package for newly acquired Shaun Livingston. There have been questions about Livingston’s unfortunate injury, and he certainly isn’t as quick as he used to be. 

But in 26 games for the Wizards at the end of last season, he was something that neither Vujacic nor Brown have been—consistent. He averaged a very respectable 9.2 points and 4.5 assists.

That still leaves one guard spot open. The Lakers can use it to sign Harvard rookie Jeremy Lin if he doesn't make the Mavs roster. If he does become a Mav, which is more than likely, the Lakers can hold onto Vujacic and Brown to see what veterans might become available.

Of course, all of this depends on how well second-round draft choices Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter do in preseason. That could leave one or two more spots open for veteran forwards. It may even entail bringing Josh Powell back.

Nevertheless, I do expect to see a new face or two players signed to the preseason roster within the next couple of weeks.


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