Still collecting $3.5 million from Wizards, Shannon Brown has moved on to Spurs

Brooklyn Nets Paul Pierce goes up for a shot against San Antonio Spurs Shannon Brown during their NBA game February 6, 2014 at the Barclay Center in New York. AFP PHOTO/Don EmmertDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Thanks for the checks, Wizards. (AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert)

Shannon Brown thought that when the Phoenix Suns traded him to the Wizards last October that he would be moving to Washington. His reasoning was understandable, because the previous two times that he had been dealt, Brown showed up for the physical, passed, and suited up for a new team.

But Brown never had to worry about packing a bag or picking out a jersey number. The Wizards only wanted to add Marcin Gortat when they traded Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract and a protected first-round pick to the Suns. And they made it clear to Brown that he and the other pieces in the trade – former Bishop O’Connell standout Kendall Marshall and Malcom Lee – were expendable. With 15 players already under contract after adding Gortat, there was no room for a player who averaged 8.1 points over his career and won an NBA championship with the Lakers in 2011.

Brown, Marshall and Lee were cut three days later. “They was pretty swift with it,” Brown, 28, said with a laugh this week while recalling his lone conversation with the organization. “It was the first time it had ever happened to me. I definitely didn’t know what to expect and it was definitely unexpected. That’s the NBA for you. I took it for what it was and kept it moving.”

Brown was able to move on much easier because the Wizards still had to pay him his entire $3.5 million guaranteed salary this season, giving him the financial flexibility to wait on his next opportunity in the NBA. That finally arrived last week, when the San Antonio Spurs signed him to a 10-day contract to help fill in with Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard both sidelined with injuries.

“It was tough,” Brown said. “Especially having to come to the realization that I wasn’t in the NBA. I wasn’t out there practicing every day, out there playing and competing. It was some days I could go out there and watch all the NBA games. Some days, I was sick. I couldn’t do it. I had to motivate myself every day – which is kind of easy, knowing that I had my family there with me –but you get up every day and work out. I don’t have no set schedule, I don’t have to be at practice at 10 o’clock, 11, or such-and-such, such-and-such. I think that was the most challenging part.”

The Spurs’ visit to Washington this week gave Brown a chance to finally make it to the Verizon Center for the first time since the deal, but he never got the chance to meet Ted Leonsis, the man who still signs his checks.

“I haven’t met him yet but I appreciate it,” Brown said of the salary that he continues to receive from the Wizards.

After studying the Wizards’ roster, which wasn’t lacking for perimeter depth, Brown isn’t really complaining that Washington cut him, especially now that he has joined a championship contender in San Antonio. Brown had five points and four rebounds in 20 minutes on Thursday against Brooklyn.

“That’s how it was. They told me all this good stuff. You’re a good player and such-and-such,” Brown said of the Wizards in the visitor’s locker room at Verizon Center. “But I understood it was not a great career move for me. They had a lot of people at my position – not that that’s a concern of mine – but I’m sure when GMs and owners, they want to see if what they put together is going to work to the fullest and it was one of those situations that I had to get through.”

When asked if he was motivated to prove a point to the Suns or the Wizards this season, Brown smiled and said, “Know what? Both. It’s a both kind of situation.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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