Dec. 26, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown reacts during game against the New Orleans Hornets at the US Airways Center. The Hornets defeated the Suns 85-84. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Shannon Brown in Limbo, What To Do?


The Suns recently picked up SG Shannon Brown’s option, keeping his $3.5 million on the roster for the upcoming season.

There are two reasons for this. His expiring contract is valuable to teams wanting to clear cap space for 2014 and would be helpful leverage in a future trade. They also had not formulated the Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler, Jared Dudley trade yet, so it was possible that Brown could have been the starting shooting guard to start the season.

However, now Eric Bledsoe has been traded for, and GM Ryan McDonough said on TV during summer league that the plan is to start Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt together. That leaves Brown as a back-up for $3.5 million. But with the emergence of Archie Goodwin in summer league, Brown’s future is in limbo. Bledsoe and Goodwin are both significantly younger than Brown and therefore there is that “potential” that people can see concerning the younger talent. Additionally, both Bledsoe and Goodwin are more aggressive than Brown generally, even though Brown is one of the highest leapers in the entire league and can throw it down at any opportunity.

So what should be done with Brown? There are two scenarios that both have pros and cons.

The first option is to trade Brown for a draft pick or combine him in a trade involving Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola, or Michael Beasley, to facilitate a younger roster. Adding Brown would help a trade that improves the future of the franchise, while also carving out significant minutes for Goodwin. On the other hand, no one benefits from Brown’s championship experience and mentoring and his value could increase as the season progresses.

The second option is to wait until the trade deadline and add Brown’s contract to the other expiring contracts of Caron Butler and Marcin Gortat in return for some draft picks and/or young talent. Here, Goodwin learns from Brown (but ideally not Brown’s obsession with fadaway jumpers), and we get the most value out of Brown, seeing as other teams get desperate with injuries or making a push for the playoffs. However in this scenario, Goodwin doesn’t get too many minutes, because you can’t justify paying a third-stringer $3.5 million for most of a season just to sit on the bench.

I would advocate for the second option but splitting evenly the back-up shooting guard minutes between Brown and Goodwin. Also, you try to get rid of Beasley and Scola making a small ball lineup possible in certain situations of Dragic, Bledsoe, Goodwin, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. This would only work against other small-ball units, like the Golden State Warriors.

When we brought in Shannon Brown, I was really excited and hoped that he would be apart of something special here in Phoenix. It hasn’t turned out that way and the writing is on the wall for his departure from the desert. His high-flying acrobatics are so fun to see, but the inevitability is there. He won’t last long in Arizona. I just hope he stays through February.

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  • coachj

    In regards to trading Brown for a pick or some other assets [even if used in combination with other players], you are assuming that Brown has some sort of value as a contract player in the market.

    That is, IMO, just not true. What I would guess is that they tried to shop Brown prior to his contract pickup date to no avail, because everyone in the NBA knows Brown has very little to offer that cannot be replaced by a minimum salary rookie. Even at the veteran’s minimum $1,265,977, Brown costs a team and extra $775,000+ for a year’s worth of his services. I saw at least 10 undrafted rookies in summer league that would produce what Brown does.

    Yet Brown is set for $3.5M, and no team is taking that on for production value. They are only going to do so as a salary dump.

    Which brings us to your second suggestion – trade Brown at the deadline in a salary dump. It is only this option that has any value whatsoever. Somebody will want his expiring deal to maneuver at the deadline. However, at $3.5M, it isn’t enough cap space to make anyone jump, nor is it enough to obtain much more than a 2nd round pick. And if you think anyone in the league is trading for anyone + Beasley, you are kidding yourself. We are stuck with him until the trade dealine the following year [where his $6m salary might actually be of more value than Brown's]

    As far as playing time and the consideration of it in correlation to salary, I don’t believe for a second that Brown’s $3.5 M salary will force anyone to play him at all. It is far more important for the Suns to get Goodwin minutes, especially in light of Brown’s short-term status. I would guess you will see many DNP-CD’s next to Brown’s name. In fact, I would sign Christmas and play him more than Brown. Goodwin and Christmas are already superior players.

    • Eric Saar

      Great points. Why would you sign Christmas though? Depth chart would be Bledsoe, Goodwin, Christmas, Brown at SG in your case with neither Christmas or Brown getting much playing time. Brown is already under contract,so why sign Christmas? He won’t play almost at all, in your scenario. Of course that would make sense if there was already no Brown on the books.

      • coachj

        First, without Oriakhi or Garrett [who was already renounced], we have 15 guys under contract, so we have no roster spot for him anyway. That is unless Channing Frye is not active and we free up a spot. Yet that does not mean there won’t be another transaction between now and the beginning of the season.

        So let’s only entertain this in the event we unload at least 2 players on the current roster [and possibly free up Frye's spot]. In that case we have 12 contract players and can carry up to 15, although most teams near the cap don’t do this. Between 13 and 14 active players are generally the rule.

        In that case, we may have the ability to sign one or two of Christmas, Oriakhi or Onuaku. Oriakhi sucks, so wipe him out. Onuaku is intersting, especially in light of having a thin front line in need of rebounding help. However, on talent alone, he doesn’t warrant keeping extra salary on board unless we move Scola or Gortat and Frye does not play.

        That leaves Christmas.

        The Suns goal right now is to obtain YOUNG assets, that will hopefully develop into either quality Suns contributors to the rebuild, or into tradeable assets. Shannon Brown is neither of these things.

        Currently we have four SF now – Butler, Marcus, and that other useless bag of weed and Tucker. Now that Johnson is gone, and Bledsoe is here, our other guards are no longer big enough to slide into the 3 spot – save PJ Tucker and his ability to play either wing spot.

        Figuring that there will be 96 mpg at the guard spot, our depth chart is Dragic, Bledsoe, Brown, Goodwin, Tucker, Lee, and Marshall [as of right now]. That already is too many guys.

        Brown is out of the plans, so playing him at all only cuts into developing our future – Goodwin and Marshall. My guess is that due to our top two guard’s ability to play either spot, our need for a pure backup PG is now eliminated, and that you will more than likely see Goodwin play alongside either Dragic or Bledsoe, and those three will dominate the minutes available. Add to that the times when we need to put Tucker on a SG, and there are virtually no minutes left. That means Marshall may spend the bulk of the season in the D-League.

        As far as Lee is concerned, we are on the hook for his salary anyway, so he too may be sent down to the D-League. If that is the case [along with Marshall], we reach our D-League limit, we then have no reason to sign Christmas, as my case really was about storing an asset in the D-league. If Lee is waived [unlikely], or as I stated above, we make a trade and one of thesse guards [lee, marshall, brown] are sent packing, then it is a different story.

        If that is the case, I make the case that we sign Christmas. He is a young SG that has an ability to score and may, in the future, prove to be a good player. It is in the Suns interest to either hold onto his rights somehow if they can. Maybe retain his rights and stash him overseas, or if we can, let him play in the D-league this year.