Elton Brand surprised the basketball world Wednsday when he signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. The deal is reportedly worth $82 million over 5 years. Brand has averaged 20.3 pts. and 10.2 reb. per game average over nine seasons.
The 76ers have not had a power player with the prowess to be a force in the paint since Moses Malone and Charles Barkley were in town.
Brand was the #1 overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft selected by the Chicago Bulls. Brand was the first Duke player to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. After two seasons with Chicago he was surprisingly traded to the L.A. Clippers for the rights to Tyson Chandler.
The decision for Brand to sign elsewhere comes as a shock to some Clippers fans, but it ought not be. Brand signed an offer sheet with the Miami Heat in 2003 as a restricted free agent. The Clippers matched the offer and Brand has spent the last 5 seasons in L.A. The two-time All-Star was said to have recruited Baron Davis from the Golden State Warriors earlier in this free agent period. Davis has agreed to join his hometown Clippers.
Golden State initially responded to the loss of Davis by offering Brand a five-year deal worth an estimated $90 million, but the Warriors never came as close to luring Brand away from L.A. In fact the Clippers, L.A.’s much maligned other team had expected to reach a similar deal with Brand, the recent face of the franchise. They had hoped to make a big splash today, the first day NBA teams can officially complete free-agent signings and trades after a league wide moratorium on roster moves is lifted.
Brand is a major offensive upgrade at the power forward position for Philadelphia from last season’s starter, the hard working Reggie Evans, who averaged 5.2 points per game. He joins a Sixers team that is no longer the lottery-bound team it was two seasons ago. The Sixers had to trade Philly icon Allen Iverson away due to a perceived lack of future success. Early last season they traded away up and coming sharp shooter Kyle Korver in order to create salary cap room. They also dismissed promising GM Billy King. They were a franchise in turmoil and transition. How fast their fortunes turned.
Brand now joins a 76ers team that turned the into a surprise playoff team. They surprisingly made the playoffs, despite a 40-42 record. Coach Maurice Cheeks’ team played hard every game and they stretched the Detroit Pistons to six games in a first-round series. Cheeks’ coaching performance earned him an extension from team president Ed Stefanski.
The deal reunites Brand with Andre Miller, the point guard who was formally a teammate of Brand’s in Los Angeles during the 2002-03 season. Along with other youngsters Andre Iguodala, Samuel Delembert, Thaddeus Young, Willie Green and Lou Williams, the 76ers are now a team that can arguably challenge for the Atlantic Division crown next season and certainly improve on their overall record.