Fans of 29 other teams watched Bruce Brown during the NBA Finals and thought, “Our team needs a guy like that.” The Lakers are trying to go one better and get Bruce Brown himself.
Brown averaged 12 points a game off the bench for the Nuggets during their playoff run to the NBA title , taking on key defensive assignments throughout the postseason, and at the end of Game 5 of the Finals was the guy stealing a Jimmy Butler pass and sealing the first banner in Nuggets’ franchise history. His play earned him a raise from the $6.8 million player option he had for next season, which is why he declined that option and became a free agent.
Now the Lakers are going to make a run at him, reports Mike Singer of the Denver Post .
Brown is precisely the kind of versatile depth and two-way player the Lakers could use — off the bench and maybe starting a fair amount of the time — at the three (it depends on how the Lakers round out their roster, but Austin Reaves and Brown could be the starting wings). Brown knows exactly how to play off a great passing superstar, he just did it with Nikola Jokić and would fit with LeBron James.
The Lakers will not be the only team to make a run at Brown — Dallas and Houston are known to have interest, and other teams likely will at least make a call — and the bidding could exceed the $12.3 million Los Angeles can offer. During the afterglow of winning a title Brown said he hoped to stay with the Nuggets, but he has made $15.2 million total over the course of five NBA seasons and if a team (the Lakers or anyone else) comes in with a mid-level exception or higher offer — which nearly doubles his career earnings in one season and, over four years gives him some generational wealth — he can’t really walk away from it.
The Nuggets only chance to keep Brown under the terms of the CBA is a long shot — he takes the Nuggets’ offer of $7.8 million on a 1+1 two-year contract, he opts out in a year when Denver has his Bird rights, and the team takes care of him (what Bobby Portis did with the Bucks). Denver may make that offer, but for Brown this summer is his chance at financial security and there is considerable risk in not grabbing it.
Brown is going to have options this summer. One is switching from playing with one legend of the game with the Nuggets to another with the Lakers.