Dumars: Brown agrees to two-year deal with Pistons

Updated: July 29, 2008, 2:51 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Kwame Brown's search for another fresh start is taking him back to the Eastern Conference.

The center and the Detroit Pistons agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract Monday night. Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars confirmed the deal to The Associated Press late Monday.

The contract is likely to be signed Tuesday and will include a player option for Brown to return to free agency after completing one season according to agent Mark Bartelstein, who told ESPN.com of the agreement earlier Monday.

It remains to be seen whether the Pistons will be able to make the splashy trade that Dumars vowed to consider after Detroit's loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. But this signing is bold in its own way for the Pistons. They will be hoping that Brown can finally start to find a foothold in Detroit after another recent top-three pick who has significantly underachieved -- 2003's No. 2 overall selection Darko Milicic -- lasted only 2 seasons with the Pistons before being dealt to Orlando in 2006.

The Pistons, though, can counter with multiple success stories -- most notably Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace -- when it comes to working with former top-five draft picks who endured problematic starts in their careers. Detroit will try to make Brown its latest reclamation project, figuring that his size, athleticism and relative youth are still too enticing to pass up, especially on a short-term commitment.

Brown earned nearly $9.1 million last season in the final year of his previous three-year deal, which the 26-year-old received in the summer of 2005 in a sign-and-trade from Washington to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Brown's expiring salary was the chief chip that the Lakers used to convince the Memphis Grizzlies to send Pau Gasol to L.A. on Feb. 1 in a trade that earned the Grizzlies widespread criticism. Memphis essentially settled for the salary-cap relief created by Brown's expected departure, two late first-round picks, young point guard Javaris Crittenton and the rights to Gasol's brother Marc. The Grizzlies subsequently signed Marc Gasol earlier this month after his breakout season in the Spanish League and used one of the first-round picks last month to acquire the rights to No. 28 overall selection Darrell Arthur of Kansas.

Brown played in only 15 games with the Grizzlies after the trade, averaging just 3.5 points and 3.8 minutes in just under 14 minutes per game. He returns to the East after spending his first four seasons as a pro in Washington, having been drafted by then-Wizards president Michael Jordan.

There were reports in the past week suggesting that Brown was a candidate to re-sign with the Lakers, with longtime Lakers coach/consultant Tex Winter telling noted Lakers historian Roland Lazenby that coach Phil Jackson "has always liked Kwame" and has "always felt that defensively he's pretty good." Yet sources say that Brown never seriously considered a reunion with the Lakers after a tumultuous stint in which he absorbed plenty of public criticism from Jackson.

In his seven pro seasons, Brown has averaged just 7.5 points and 5.7 rebounds, posting his best season in 2003-04 by averaging 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Wizards. Brown has likewise been plagued by various injuries, appearing in 42 games or less in three of the past four seasons.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics