Kwame Brown, Bobcats agree to deal
To the surprise of countless NBA observers, Kwame Brown and Michael Jordan are together again.
A reunion that no one in the league expected after their well-chronicled difficulties in Washington will take place in Charlotte this season after Brown struck a one-year deal at the veteran minimum with the Jordan-owned Bobcats.
Mark Bartlestein, Brown's Chicago-based agent, told ESPN.com that the sides agreed to terms Monday after Brown played the past two seasons for the Detroit Pistons.
As a nine-year veteran, Brown will earn $1.3 million next season. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Brown appeared in 48 games last season, averaging 3.3 points and 3.7 minutes in 13.8 minutes per game.
"He really wanted to take the challenge of playing again for Michael and playing for a top coach like Larry Brown," Bartelstein said. "I think it says a lot about Kwame that he wanted to go to Charlotte.
The last few years have been difficult for him, but I think he's really excited to go there and try to create a new chapter in his career.” -- Kwame Brown agent Mark Bartlestein
"The last few years have been difficult for him, but I think he's really excited to go there and try to create a new chapter in his career. He wants this opportunity to go back and prove something."
In 2001, Brown became the first high schooler in league history to be drafted No. 1 overall when Jordan, as president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, used his first draft pick as an executive on the Georgia teenager.
But the gamble worked out disastrously for both, with Brown chafing under the pressure of not only being drafted by Jordan but playing alongside him as a teammate when Jordan unretired and began his final comeback as a player shortly before Brown's rookie season.
With the drafting of Brown often cited as the prime misstep of what is generally regarded as an unsuccessful front-office tenure for Jordan, then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin abruptly cut ties with the future Hall of Famer after the 2002-03 season when Jordan hoped to return to his personnel role.
"Michael was very much a part of this," Bartelstein said of Jordan. "He wanted this to happen and he wanted to give Kwame another opportunity.
"There's been so much written about the fact that this was Michael's first pick [as an executive] and so much criticism directed at both of them when it didn't work out. When that happens you can do one of two things. You can run from all that, or you can use it as motivation. What better way to try to turn your career around than to go back to where it all started?
"There were a lot of easier places Kwame could have gone, a lot of safer places. I think this says a lot about his competitive instinct and fire that he wanted to take on this challenge."
The latter qualities are areas in which Brown has been frequently questioned in the past, especially by Jordan himself when both were in Washington. But Bartelstein also cited Larry Brown's reputation as a teacher as another attraction for Kwame Brown as he tries, like fellow recent Bobcats signee Shaun Livingston, to resurrect his career.
It was widely presumed around the league that Jordan, because of their history, would not want to work with Brown again, but the 28-year-old -- at a bargain-basement price -- fills a need for the size-deficient Bobcats after attracting interest this summer from several playoff teams including Utah, Phoenix and Atlanta.
The Bobcats have yet to officially comment on Brown's signing, but it's believed that Jordan is willing to try again with the much-maligned power forward not only because of the inviting price but because the other centers on the roster are thirtysomethings Nazr Mohammed and Erick Dampier and veteran DeSagana Diop, who has at times fallen out of favor with Larry Brown.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.