*It’s being reported that Shannon Brown will return to the Lakers after exploring his other options in free agency. The deal is reportedly a 2 year contract worth 4.6 million dollars that will pay him 2.2 million in year one with a player option at 2.4 million in year two. And really, I’m quite happy about this. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been someone that believed Shannon could really help the team next year and that his willingness to be coached, learn the nuances of the Lakers’ sets, and improve his game are traits that are welcomed on this particular team. Not to mention, we all like seeing plays like these. So really, it’s a can’t lose situation. Brown knows the Lakers system, is respected by his teammates, and is comfortable with the role that he’s carved out. And speaking of his role, some are wondering if Shannon will be used the same way next season (i.e as Kobe’s primary back up). Honestly, I don’t see any other scenario that makes sense. Many will point to Matt Barnes as being the player that will take a lot of minutes at back up SG (and thus Shannon being more of an insurance combo guard), but I don’t really see it that way. This isn’t to say that Barnes won’t play any SG next year, but as I’ve said in the past Barnes’ questionable handle and turnover rate (not to mention his unfamiliarity with the Lakers system) don’t really make him an ideal candidate to play SG in the Triangle. Barnes, I think, is much more of a pure SF and is likely to play the “Ariza” role in the offense where ball handling and offensive initiation is limited, while slashing and spot up shooting is emphasized. Meanwhile, Brown can continue to play as a secondary ball handler in both full and half court situations while also doing all the things he’s done up to this point with the Lakers.
*We’ve touched on this topic some over the past couple of days, but Shaq will be a Celtic. There are many different opinions on this from all anglesbut here’s my two cents in relation to Shaq as a player and his legacy as a Laker: Shaq’s been a great player in his career. And while many want to explore what he could have been had he only worked harder/committed himself to elite conditioning/not burned bridges with his other teams/fill in the blank, I celebrate the man for what he actually did do during his career. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I ignore his faults or fail to recognize the legitimacy of “what could have been” when it comes to the Diesel. But I am saying that Shaq was fantastic during his prime and his peak was higher than many other players (maybe every other player save Kobe) that we’ve seen in the past 10 to 15 years. Despite Shaq’s shortcomings, he was the best Center of his era (by far) and I have him a hair above Duncan as the best big man of his generation (with Shaq’s peak dominance being valued a bit more than Duncan’s robotic – yet high level – consistency). I will always remember Shaq’s tenure with the Lakers fondly as his exploits directly led to three consecutive championships. Yes he was foolishly wrong at times. Yes, his grass is always greener attitude bothered me. And of course, as stated earlier, he could have worked harder and been even greater than he was. But, in the end, Shaq was a monster that gave the Lakers and their fans some of the best years (and playoff performances) that we’ve ever seen. That’s not opinion. Look at some of his playoff performances and the impact he had on the court. I understand many will not agree with me, but it’s where I am with Shaq. All that said, ask me again after the first time the Lakers play the Celtics this year.
*Over at TrueHoop, Henry Abbott has a great post up where he’s looking at how thinking can get in the way of performing well. There’s more to it than that, but go over and give it a read. After I read what Henry wrote (and the article he references in the post) I had so many thoughts about the Lakers. I thought about game 7 of this past season’s Finals against the Celtics and how everyone seemed to play tight. It was as if the moment was so big and the players wanted to play so well that they were over thinking the game and it led to nearly every player having a sub par shooting game. The article also made me think of an interview with Robert Horry and him talking about the art of making clutch shots (you know, like this one) and how the key was not thinking about the moment and just shooting the ball as he normally would. Anyways, go check out Henry’s post and let me know if you can think of any other Lakers moments that fall into this category.
*And speaking of reading other sites, I’m still always impressed with the high quality work that so many writers put out there when it comes to basketball. Just in the past couple days, a couple of pieces that I really liked were Eddy Rivera’s post on Tracy McGrady’s wasted prime years in Orlando (and how good T-Mac really was) and Rob Mahoney’s piece on positional revolution in basketball. Just two excellent pieces of writing that I enjoyed.
*On a side note, still looking for more mailbag questions. So, send them in as I’m looking to put together another post with answers to questions in the next week.