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Team will give up Butler and either Atkins or George to acquire the former overall No. 1 pick from the Wizards.
By Mike Bresnahan, Times Staff Writer
The Lakers have taken another bold step to remake their roster, agreeing in principle on a trade that would bring forward-center Kwame Brown from the Washington Wizards and would send Caron Butler and likely Chucky Atkins to Washington.
Brown, 6 feet 11, was drafted No. 1 overall in 2001 and fell on hard times last season with the Wizards, but he has the potential to be an impact post player.
Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Wizard President Ernie Grunfeld declined to comment Wednesday, but sources said the components of the deal were in place involving Brown and Butler. The Wizards could choose small forward Devean George instead of Atkins to complete the deal.
NBA teams cannot announce free-agent signings or sign-and-trade transactions until a league moratorium is lifted July 22.
Brown, 23, received two guaranteed years with a third-year option held by the team. The Lakers will not be parting with the 2006 first-round pick they received from the Miami Heat in the Shaquille O'Neal trade last July.
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.
The Wizards are interested in Butler in the wake of losing unrestricted free-agent guard Larry Hughes to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Butler, who played small forward and shooting guard last season, was one of the Lakers' most consistent players down the stretch, averaging 21.9 points over his last 15 games.
Butler, 25, was one of three players acquired from Miami in the O'Neal trade. If the Lakers waive Brian Grant to save $30 million in luxury taxes as part of a one-time amnesty provision under the new collective bargaining agreement, Lamar Odom would be the only Laker left from the O'Neal trade.
Atkins, 30, averaged a career-best 13.6 points last season for the Lakers but his lack of size made him a poor fit for a triangle offense that has historically worked better with taller guards under Phil Jackson.
With the addition of Brown, the Lakers would have under contract Kobe Bryant, Odom, Chris Mihm, Jumaine Jones, Brian Cook, Slava Medvedenko, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf. Atkins or George would also be under contract.