Friday, July 15, 2005

Me Stab Mitch Kupchak

The Lakers are deep in talks to trade Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins to Washington, in exchange for forward/center Kwame Brown.

Now don't get me wrong: Butler and Atkins are hardly franchise saviors. Our payroll is being choked by an unmanageable glut of small forwards as it is--Butler is one of the more expendable among them--and while the loss of Atkins would leave us staking our entire 1-spot on Tierre Brown, I have to imagine we'd make a move to sign an established B-list point guard later this summer. Plus Kobe always brings the ball up the court and controls the offense anyway. Okay, fine. The only real reason to object to Atkins's and Butler's departure is a philosophical one, i.e., that it's symptomatic of the neverending money-fueled season-to-season player rotation in the league, where no single player can be expected to stick around for more than a year or two and actually cultivate a fan base.

That having been said, this particular trade happens to be a steaming pile of bad news, because Kwame Brown is a nightmare wrapped in a joke. He's the biggest washout among #1 draft picks in the NBA going back ten years. He's lazy, truculent, irresponsible and verging on talentless. He's absolutely the last kind of player the Lakers need, size notwithstanding, and it pains me to see them making a move for him.

Consider this list of professional abominations provided by the Los Angeles Times, which, I should point out, appears in the context of a news article, not an Op-Ed. That is to say, they're not consciously building a case against him, they're simply narrating some of the highlights of his "career." To wit:

"In 2001, Brown became the first high school player taken with the top pick in the draft, but he has been erratic and enigmatic throughout his first four seasons.

Last season, he was suspended before Game 5 of the Wizards' first-round series against the Chicago Bulls and missed seven playoff games because he had groused as his playing time decreased, claiming a stomach illness and missing a practice.

Brown was also suspended for a game last December because he reportedly walked away from the huddle during a timeout as Wizard Coach Eddie Jordan questioned his failure on a defensive assignment.

In his first two seasons, Brown clashed with aging guard Michael Jordan and former Wizard coach Doug Collins.

Brown showed traces of improvement in his third season, averaging a career-best 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, but he broke his right foot during a pickup game last summer and started the 2004-05 season on the injured list.

Brown was out of shape most of last season, playing only 42 games and averaging seven points and 4.9 rebounds. He was booed at home numerous times.

Off the court, Brown has been troubled, getting arrested in 2002 for driving 120 mph and again in 2003 for driving under the influence."

So this is our big offseason acquisition. A chronically unhealthy, misdirected criminal who defies his coaches; a post-player whose career double-doubles can be counted on one hand; a guy who only a few years ago, at the age of 18, graduated from high school and six weeks later got paid $3.7 million to play basketball with Michael Jordan, and decided to spend the year arguing with him.

Good move, Mitch! Way to play 'em!


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