- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2001

The Washington Wizards reached an agreement in principle yesterday with top pick Kwame Brown and will sign him to a contract worth close to $12 million this month.

The Wizards also got some help in their backcourt, reaching an agreement with Tyronn Lue, a backup point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Brown, the first high school player to be taken with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, thus far has been able to mix some business (such as exploring a sneaker deal) with pleasure since the Wizards picked him late last month.

However, things now turn serious for the 19-year-old from Brunswick, Ga. Brown is expected to be in the District today and will take part in the team's minicamp this weekend at MCI Center. Next week Brown will participate in the Boston Summer League, playing six games in seven nights against NBA competition.

"We're looking forward to getting Kwame acclimated and going in the organization," Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Jordan said last week. "It's an exciting time for the Wizards and for him."

Said Brown: "This is something I've worked hard for my whole life and now the time is here. I'm very excited about everything."

Brown's contract is guaranteed for $11.9 million over three years. Lue is believed to have signed a multi-year deal. Earlier in the week, the Wizards reached an agreement in principle with Bobby Simmons, acquired in a draft night trade with Seattle. Simmons' contract will pay him $332,817 if the 6-foot-7 small forward from DePaul makes the team.

Lue's signing should bolster the Wizards at point guard; until yesterday Chris Whitney was the only true point guard on the roster. But it is the addition of the 6-11, 240-pound Brown that will draw the greatest scrutiny.

"I think they've clearly added a heck of a player, but he's going to need some time to develop in order to become the player that many suspect he can be," said one Eastern Conference general manager. "They've pinned their future on a kid. That can be a heavy load."

Thus far Brown has seemed up to the challenge, carrying himself with confidence. However, the question now is whether he will become the next Kevin Garnett another prep star who turned pro and the player to whom Brown has most been likened or a mistake.

"This is my job now," Brown said. "I've taken it serious my whole life. Now it becomes even more serious."

The 6-1 Lue began his career as a first-round pick of the Denver Nuggets (23rd overall) in the 1998 draft. However, the Nuggets quickly traded Lue's rights and forward Tony Battie to the Lakers for Nick Van Exel.

Lue had been a seldom-used reserve in two seasons with the Lakers but played an important role in the team's run to a second consecutive championship last season. Lue, one of the quickest players in the league, was assigned to guard league MVP Allen Iverson in the Finals and helped hold Iverson to 40 percent shooting from the field as the Lakers won the series 4-1.

Nonetheless, Lue became expendable when the Lakers acquired point guard Lindsey Hunter from Milwaukee for journeyman center Greg Foster.

The Lakers expressed interest in keeping Lue, particularly after it was learned that starting point guard Derek Fisher could miss the start of the regular season with a broken foot suffered in the Finals. New Jersey, which just traded Stephon Marbury for former Phoenix Sun Jason Kidd, also was interested in Lue. However, with two championship rings in his possession, the 24-year-old Lue wanted to go somewhere where playing time was more likely.

"That's important to him now," agent Andy Miller said. "Washington provides a good chance to get that."

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