Brand New Day for the Sixers, Same Old Same Old for the ClippersNow you know why I don't write lengthy articles to analyze "proposed trades" or "proposed free agent signings" five seconds after a "breaking news" banner scrolls across the crawl on ESPN: "proposed" means that nothing has officially happened yet and therefore something else could very well take place. I don't know how much bandwidth, air time and newsprint have been wasted in the past week or so "analyzing" the "new look" Clippers featuring Baron Davis and Elton Brand but the current "breaking news" is that Brand is going to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, who just shipped Rodney Carney and Calvin Booth to Minnesota in order to create enough salary cap room to offer Brand a five year, $82 million deal that he reportedly has accepted.
After reports surfaced last week that Davis was leaving the Warriors to sign with the Clippers, I wrote a six paragraph post about the proposed deal and devoted exactly one paragraph to the possibility of Brand and Davis playing together in L.A., concluding, "Their potential starting lineup of Chris Kaman, Brand, second year forward Al Thornton--a beast in training--Davis and Cuttino Mobley is quite potent. The main questions for the Clippers are their health, their dedication at the defensive end of the court and the lack of depth on their bench. Still, on paper this looks like a team that could certainly be in the Western Conference playoff mix if those three concerns are properly addressed." Although Brand initially gave indications that he was willing to accept less money to stay in L.A. if the Clippers upgraded their roster he apparently decided upon further reflection that moving to the Eastern Conference has several benefits, including being closer to his home town of Peekskill, New York, a seemingly easier path to the NBA Finals and the supposedly greater opportunity to make the All-Star team (the latter speculation is courtesy of ESPN's Ric Bucher). Of course, the only thing that is really guaranteed for Brand (besides the money) is moving closer to home, because beating Boston, Detroit, Cleveland and/or Orlando in a seven game series will not be easy for the 76ers and LeBron James and Kevin Garnett are virtually guaranteed to be the starting forwards for the Eastern All-Stars (barring injury). In the wake of his Finals MVP performance I expect six-time All-Star Paul Pierce to be selected as an All-Star once again, so that leaves Brand battling with Chris Bosh, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Rasheed Wallace and Shawn Marion for the remaining forward spots.
If he remains healthy, Brand certainly fills the 76ers' glaring need for an effective low post scorer, a deficiency that became painfully--and fatally--obvious during last season's playoffs when they pushed the Pistons to six games but simply could not score enough points in the half court set to keep pace when the Pistons slowed the tempo down and limited their turnovers. The Sixers have several young, talented players plus a very underrated point guard/floor leader in Andre Miller. However, it does not take a basketball mastermind to figure out that unless the Sixers also improve their outside shooting that teams will be able to feed Brand a steady diet of double teams without worrying about getting burned. Still, this is no doubt a major coup for Philadelphia and a major blow to the Clippers, who most likely will be trading tales of misery with the Warriors during next year's Draft Lottery. If Davis stays healthy then this season will be a good opportunity for him to prove that he truly is an elite point guard, because the Clippers will need an All-NBA caliber season from him to have any chance of making the playoffs in the West. The Warriors have enough talent left to contend for a playoff spot--and they will apparently be adding Corey Maggette to the mix as well--but with Portland on the rise and last year's eight West playoff teams looking strong Golden State will probably miss the cut for the second year in a row.
If there is such a thing as karma then what did Clippers' fans do in their previous lives to deserve the ACL tears, ruptured Achilles tendons and assorted other injuries, mishaps and boneheaded moves that they have suffered through in the past 25 years or so?
posted by David Friedman @ 5:19 AM