It seems the Lakers could have a clean slate at point guard. With Derek Fisher an unrestricted free agent and Jordan Farmar a restricted one, L.A. was set to move forward into the off-season with Shannon Brown as the sole PG secured for next season. However, apparently Brown has decided that he will “probably” turn down his $2.2 million player option for next season to become a free agent, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.
If nothing else, Brown should be able to sign a longer deal in anticipation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is likely to not only curb max contract size and length starting in 2011, but also have a trickle-down effect to players in Shannon’s tier.
If Brown wants to re-sign with the Lakers, the initial year of his new deal could only be worth about $2.6 million, unless L.A. plans to use part of their mid-level exception. With Los Angeles so far over the cap, the only reason they can re-sign Brown at all is using a salary cap exception of some sort; if they choose not to cut into the MLE, they’ll be able to re-sign Shannon to a new deal (starting roughly at the aforementioned $2.6 million) because they hold his Early Bird rights.
However, the Lakers could surely seek PG help from elsewhere. Fisher seems like a lock to return, but L.A. could still play the market with their MLE. There are likely plenty of free agents out there who wouldn’t mind snuggling up with the champs. Although point guard isn’t exactly the deepest position in this summer’s FA class, there are still a few viable candidates. Raymond Felton (UFA), Kyle Lowry (RFA), and even Steve Blake (UFA) could provide interesting alternatives, should the Lakers prefer them to Brown.