Wizards to get Butler and Atkins
Arn Tellem confirmed a published report that Brown, the first overall selection in the 2001 NBA draft, will be involved in a trade between the Lakers and Washington Wizards.
"It's Kwame's intention to sign a contract with the Wizards on the first day possible and be traded to the Lakers," Tellem said. "All parties are in agreement. This is the intention we're going to execute upon the first day possible."
That would be July 22 -- the date when an NBA moratorium is lifted and teams can announce free agent signings or sign-and-trade transactions.
Tellem wouldn't comment further, saying: "We're restricted in what we can say."
The trade was first reported Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, which quoted sources.
"We cannot make any comment until after the moratorium period ends," Lakers spokesman John Black said.
Atkins is under contract for $4.5 million next season, while Butler will earn nearly $2.5 million.
The 23-year-old Brown has been a disappointment in his four seasons with the Wizards, but has shown great potential at times. He gives the Lakers an inside presence they lacked last season, and presumably will move into the starting lineup at power forward and enable Lamar Odom to move to small forward, considered his natural position.
Phil Jackson signed a three-year contract last month to return as coach of the Lakers after taking a season off. The team failed to make the playoffs for only the second time since 1976, going 34-48 and losing 19 of their last 21 games.
Brown was the first high school player to be chosen No. 1 in the draft, and averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 57 games as a rookie.
He averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 80 games in his second season, and 10.9 points and a team-leading 7.4 rebounds in 74 games in his third year.
Brown broke his right foot in a pickup game last summer, and began the 2004-05 season on the injured list. He wound up playing in only 42 games and averaging 7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 21.6 minutes.
He was suspended for most of the postseason after missing a practice and Game 4 of the Wizards' first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 5.0 points in the first three games.
Brown was a restricted free agent because the Wizards extended him a qualifying contract offer.
"There is no saying that he won't be back with us," Washington president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said after the Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs. "We'll explore all of our options. We'll meet with him and his representatives and see where we are. There is a possibility that he will be back with us."
Apparently, it won't turn out that way.
It's been widely reported that Brown incurred the wrath of Michael Jordan in 2001-02 and 2002-03 -- Jordan's two seasons with the Wizards.
Brown will likely be joined in the starting lineup by Odom, Kobe Bryant and Chris Mihm. The other backcourt starter could be someone who signs as a free agent. The Lakers have reportedly expressed interest in Antonio Daniels, who played for Seattle last season.
Butler was a first-round draft choice of the Heat in 2002 after playing at Connecticut. He averaged 9.2 points as a rookie and 15.4 points in his second NBA season.
Atkins, who turns 31 next month, averaged a career-high 13.6 points in 82 games last season. He entered the NBA with Orlando in 1999 and has also played for Detroit and Boston.
One of Brown's new teammates will be forward Luke Walton, who is returning to the Lakers.
Walton's agent, Lon Babby, said Thursday that Walton, a restricted free agent, "is committed to return, and they're committed to him."
"It will be a two-year deal," Babby said from his Washington, D.C., office. "He's excited about remaining in L.A. That's his home base. He's had a great experience there. He's excited about playing for Phil Jackson again, he had a lot of success playing for Phil in his rookie year."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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