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BROWN'S READY TO TURN PAGE FORWARD IS HAPPY TO BE WITH LAKERS.

Byline: Rich Hammond Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO - Kwame Brown had nothing in hand Wednesday except his new Lakers jersey, but he knows there is some significant baggage to unload in the coming months.

Brown, introduced to the media a day after the Lakers officially acquired him along with Laron Profit from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Chucky Atkins and Caron Butler, expressed gratitude for what he called a ``fresh start'' with the Lakers after four disappointing and troubled seasons with the Wizards.

``I just thank God that I'm not in Washington and I'm looking forward to turning things around for myself and my family,'' said the 6-foot-11 Brown, who is expected to start at power forward for the Lakers.

To succeed in Los Angeles, Brown not only will have to fit seamlessly into coach Phil Jackson's triangle offense, but also reverse the reputation he acquired in Washington for being an immature and overrated player.

Brown, 23, the No. 1 overall pick out of high school in 2001 and the hand-picked choice of then-Wizards executive Michael Jordan, soured on Washington last season because of reduced playing time and the lack of a role in the team's guard-oriented attack after his mid-season return from a broken foot.

The relationship between Brown and the Wizards deteriorated to the point where he was booed by fans and suspended for the team's final six playoff games after he sat out a game and missed a practice.

``I would use the word 'frustrating,' '' Brown said of his issues in Washington. ``All the things that happened in Washington came from a lack of playing time. There were situations that I could have handled a little more professionally than I did, and I learned from it. I'm not perfect and I acknowledge that.

``I was taught how to be a man in Washington. I went there as a boy and I became a man. ... I'm thankful for what happened. I don't regret anything that happened.''

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he and Jackson met with Brown before the trade and came away satisfied Brown's problems in Washington would not follow him cross country to Los Angeles.

``He's acknowledged publicly, and to us, that maybe he'd do some things the same and maybe he'd do some things differently,'' Kupchak said. ``That's how you learn.''

The Lakers are also hoping Brown's game will mature as well. His numbers improved steadily, to highs of 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 2003-04, but his playing time, and stats, dipped last year.

Brown said he hadn't yet spoken to Kobe Bryant and had only a brief conversation with Jackson a few weeks ago, but he seemed confident about his ability to fit in and learn the triangle offense, even if the Lakers ask him to sometimes play center instead of power forward.

``It doesn't matter to me as long as I play,'' Brown said.

While all the local attention focused on Brown, Kupchak no doubt cast a glance toward Portland, where the Trail Blazers waived guard Derek Anderson as part of the league's new amnesty provision. The provision is a one-time escape clause that allows a team to waive a player and avoid a dollar-for-dollar application to a luxury tax paid by teams exceeding the salary cap. The salary of any player released under the provision still counts toward the salary cap.

Sources told the Daily News this week that Anderson is a candidate to sign with the Lakers. Kupchak said Wednesday the Lakers need to add backcourt depth but did not specifically address Anderson.

``Everybody is very curious to see how the amnesty thing is going to play out,'' Kupchak said. ``I'm not going to say that that's not a possibility, but we're certainly not going to bank on getting a player who is going to help us via amnesty. We'll look at trades and we'll look at free agency.''

Rich Hammond, (818) 713-3611

rich.hammond(at)dailynews.com

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Kwame Brown, left, says he's glad to be out of Washington and is happy to join the Lakers.

Nick Ut/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 4, 2005
Words:689
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