Shannon Brown prepared for no season
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown opted out of his contract with the team in June in order to explore free agency. He is prepared to sit out a full season before signing a new deal if the owners' negotiation stance with the union during the NBA lockout causes it to come to that.
"I think we (players) are (prepared to miss the season)," Brown told 710 ESPN's "Stephen A. Smith Show" on Tuesday. "We don't want to though. We're prepared, but we don't want to.
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"We're a family. If a guy is hurting (financially) and a guy needs to reach out to somebody, I think that person will be there for him to help them get over the hump that they need to get over until this thing is over."
National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter told the L.A. Times last month that the Lakers' Kobe Bryant was one person who had offered to lend money to fellow players during the work stoppage.
"But," Brown added about the loan scenario, "we don't want to (miss the season). Not at all."
The NBA has been locked out since July 1 and has already canceled the first two weeks of the 2011-12 regular season. The split of the league's total Basketball Related Income (BRI) remains a hotly contested issue, with both the players' and owners' sides seeking a 53-47 percent portion in their favor. Under the last collective bargaining agreement that expired June 30, players took home 57 percent of the BRI.
Both sides met with George Cohen from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in New York City for more than 16 hours on Tuesday in hopes of reaching an agreement on the BRI split and other system issues that have caused the lockout to last 109 days and counting. The two sides met beginning at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday and went late into the night. Negotiations are expected to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
NBA commissioner David Stern said last week that his "gut feeling" was that if significant progress was not made with the mediator, then the season would surely be canceled until Christmas or longer. ESPN.com's Chad Ford told 710 ESPN's "Mason & Ireland Show" on Tuesday that he believed the entire season could be lost if Cohen's influence didn't move negotiations along.
"If we were to lose a whole season, I think the NBA would never be the same," Brown said. "The NBA would never be able to recover its fans or none of that for the rest of the history of the game."
Brown, 25, is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 8.7 points per game. After making a relatively modest $7.1 million over the course of the first five years of his career, Brown opted out of the $2.4 million guaranteed contract he was offered by the Lakers for the 2011-12 season.
Brown could still sign a new deal with the team whenever a new CBA is agreed upon and the league's truncated free agency period begins, but it is unlikely. The Lakers selected two guards in the second round of June's draft -- Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock -- in part as insurance against Brown's assumed departure.
Brown spent much of his interview on the "Stephen A. Smith Show" talking about the NBA's future as a whole rather than his own free agency options, however.
"We don't want to get taken advantage of, to put it very blunt," Brown said. "We don't want to feel like we're out there basically giving our services, giving our bodies, giving our time, being away from our families and all of that stuff being taken advantage of and we're not reaping any benefits from it. That's how we kind of feel at this point."
Players stand to lose approximately $170 million in total salary for every two weeks of the season that are canceled. Brown pointed out the hypocrisy of owners still being able to collect on lucrative television contracts in the meantime.
"They are getting money from the TV (networks) and the TV (networks) are paying them because they want to see us play," Brown said. "So, they're getting paid off our services without us giving any service anyway.
"Does that make us look bad or does that make them look bad?"
Brown later addressed the notion that Stern and the owners are currently winning the public relations battle during the lockout.
"People can tell you anything," Brown said. "It's like a guy who wants to get next to a chick. He's going to tell her anything he wants just to get next to her. Just like the audience and the fans are being told anything (by the owners' side) just to keep them from going super crazy about what's really going on behind the scenes."
More than 60 NBA players have gone abroad and signed with international teams to earn a paycheck during the lockout. Brown does not believe that stars like New Jersey's Deron Williams and San Antonio's Tony Parker joining the overseas exodus hurts the union's bargaining position.
"I don't think they would go overseas and not still fight for us at the same time because they would have a chance to come back once the season started," Brown said. "I don't think they would do that again, just leave us over here stuck."
Brown added he has been approached to play in several of the charity basketball games that have been springing up around the country and has interest in participating in the future.
"They got my number," Brown said. "Hit me up and I'm there."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.