- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Exactly four weeks after the NBA super summer free-agency frenzy commenced, Shannon Brown has had three places emerge as his most probable destinations next season: Hollywood, Broadway or the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Brown has to decide between taking less money and a smaller role with the championship-contending Los Angeles Lakers, the team that turned his career around when it acquired him a season and a half ago, or a bigger pay day and possible starting position on the New York Knicks or Cleveland Cavaliers, two teams in transition mode after the acquisition of Amare Stoudemire and the exit of LeBron James, respectively.
CBSSports.com reported Thursday the Knicks have extended a formal offer to Brown. New York has shown interest in Brown throughout the summer, according to a source close to the situation who also said Brown's representative has been in discussions with both Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni about how the guard would fit into D'Antoni's system. Discussions remain "ongoing," according to the source.
Brown, who played for four different teams in 3½ seasons before earning a spot in the Lakers' rotation and averaging career highs in points (8.1), rebounds (2.2) and assists (1.3) last season, would challenge Bill Walker and newly acquired Kelenna Azubuike to be a starting shooting guard in New York.
On Tuesday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he continued to talk with Brown's agent, Mark Bartelstein, and expected the free agent's status to be settled within the next "seven to 10 days." Brown opted out of his contract with the Lakers, which would have paid him approximately $2.15 million next season.
The Lakers have 11 players under contract but have begun negotiations with second-round draft picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter to grow their roster to the league-minimum 13. Signing Brown would put the team at 14, one more than the Lakers carried last year, unless they can shed a player through a trade or through a medical exception, the latter being a possibility the team is mulling because of the health of Luke Walton's back.
The Lakers are already committed to more than $92.5 million in salary for next season, putting them more than $22 million past the luxury tax threshold and making it unreasonable to expect owner Dr. Jerry Buss to reach even deeper into his pockets to find more money for Brown.
But Kupchak has looked into some creative accounting -- which has kept the discussion open with Brown despite the financial constraints of the situation -- by working on what Bartelstein described last week as "different concepts."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported this week that before the Cavaliers traded Delonte West to Minnesota, the Lakers inquired about a trade that would have sent Sasha Vujacic and a first-round pick to the Cavs for West.
The deal would have taken Vujacic's salary -- close to $5.5 million -- off the books and all told would have saved the team almost $11 million after taking into consideration the luxury tax because the Lakers probably would have waived West had the trade gone through. Making a move to clear Vujacic from the cap would serve as a shoehorn for Brown's return.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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