Shannon Brown returning to Lakers
The Lakers learned a bit more about their future Monday by agreeing to terms on a contract with Shannon Brown, though Lamar Odom remained far apart in negotiations with the team that employed him the last five seasons.
On a day in which Kobe Bryant spoke out on a variety of topics, including his own contract, the Lakers pared their unrestricted free agents down to one after Brown agreed to take $4.2 million over the next two years, with the second year his option.
The reserve guard will be back with the Lakers, but there has been no movement on Odom, one of the last big-name free agents still seeking a home. Odom was on the Lakers’ books for $14.1 million last season, but the Lakers are balking at his asking price of more than $10 million a season.
“There’s really nothing to report,” said a source familiar with the negotiations who wasn’t authorized to talk publicly.
If the Lakers don’t get Odom, whom they can basically sign without regard to the salary cap, their only other spending tool of note is the “biannual exception,” in which teams over the salary cap can sign a free agent to a two-year contract starting at $1.99 million next season.
Count Bryant among those who want Odom back.
“I hope so,” Bryant said. “He better be.”
The free-agent moratorium ends Wednesday, at which point Brown and Ron Artest can officially sign with the Lakers. Artest agreed to a three-year contract last week worth about $18 million.
One player who isn’t done negotiating is Bryant, who chose to wait until later this month to work out details of an extension that could pay him as much as $138.7 million over the next five years.
Bryant is under contract next season for $23 million. He seemed patient while talking with reporters at his third annual summer camp at Loyola Marymount University.
“Mitch has a lot on his plate,” Bryant said, referring to Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “I’d rather him take care of those pieces first. He’ll get around to me.”
Bryant said he would miss Trevor Ariza and was initially cautious when asked if the Lakers would improve with Artest.
“It’s tough to say whether we’ll be a better team,” he said. “Trevor brought his style to us, which was very effective, obviously, and Ron will bring his style to us. It will just be a different team. Every year, we adapt, we adjust.”
Even though Bryant and Artest had words during a couple of games last season, Bryant related a pro-Artest anecdote from the 2008 NBA Finals in which Artest, a spectator at Game 6, entered the showers in the Lakers’ locker room after Boston clinched the championship with a 39-point victory.
“I was in there by myself,” Bryant said. “He came in there and he said, ‘This is not going to happen to you [again]. I’m going to come in here and help you out.’ He wound up being in Houston, and [then] took us to Game 7. But he’s here now. It’s something we’ve both been trying to make happen for a while and here it is.”
Bryant bristled Monday when asked if Artest’s reputation would be a problem.
“Where is that reputation coming from? Because he ran in the stands and kicked somebody’s . . . ?” Bryant said. “You talk to anybody who played with him -- he’s a great teammate, [will] never be a problem in the locker room. He had that one incident in Detroit, but outside of that, he’s not a problem at all.”
Meanwhile, Brown declined a more lucrative offer from Indiana to stay with the Lakers, said his agent, Mark Bartelstein.
“This is where he wanted to be,” Bartelstein said. “The Lakers treated him well during his short time there, and he hopes to continue and improve his game.”
Brown, 23, was a throw-in with Adam Morrison in the February trade that sent Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte, but he became a fan favorite with his hustle and surprisingly powerful dunks. He made $796,000 last season.
Brown went scoreless in the NBA Finals, playing in only three games because of Derek Fisher’s increased playing time, though he had better stats earlier in the playoffs, including 7.2 points a game in the first round against Utah.
Times staff writer Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.