Elton Brand is taking, to me, a surprising amount of abuse from pockets of the media regarding his decision to jump to the Sixers after opting out from his contract with the Clippers. Sure, he initially said he was intending to re-sign, but I don’t think he can be blamed in the slightest for what he has done. Here are five good reasons:
1. He made more money. Not a ton more, but Philly was willing to pay more than the Clippers. As we hear until we are sick of it, sports are a business now.
2. He moved to the East. The East is rapidly improving, they have had a strong offseason in many cases, and they win more than their share of titles, but it is still the poor cousin of the NBA. The West is ridiculously deep and tough. Even with Baron Davis and Brand the Clippers were far from a lock to make the playoffs. The Sixers are already a playoff team, and Brand has a chance to be very competitive in a conference with more room to grow. Jumping at the opportunity to move was the smart thing to do.
3. Baron Davis did the same thing. I am somehow supposed to feel sorry for the Clippers even though they did the exact same thing to Golden State as Philly did to them – poach away an opting out player who said he was going to return. Karma. Irony. Hilarious.
4. He joined a better team. Philly has a younger core, but as long as they re-sign Andre Iguodala they have more talent, more potential, and are a better fit for Brand’s talents than the Clippers were. If you were to have listed the attributes of the payer that the Sixers needed to complete their puzzle you would have ended up with pretty much exactly what Brand has to offer. The Clippers added Davis, but they also lost Carey Maggette, and didn’t have a way to replace his scoring. Brand should be praised for his hunger to win.
5. He owes the Clippers nothing. Brand played for the Clippers for seven years. He was mostly a model citizen and was the face of the sad organization. Over that time the team mostly floundered. They made one playoff run of significance, and even then making the second round of the playoffs was seen as a huge upset. Brand has been living in basketball purgatory, and he has just taken it. He hasn’t pouted, driven drunk, done drugs, or shot a stripper. He’s just kept his head down, played at a high level, and gone about his business. This guy needs and deserves a change of scenery. After all he has been through in L.A. I think he can be forgiven for not believing that the next next coming of the Clippers is for real. The Clippers were not just one player away. Anyone who says otherwise is writing from atop a high ivory tower.
Needless to say, I am in Brand’s corner on this one. I already liked the Sixers quite a bit – they are fun to watch and were profitable ATS last year. This just makes them more interesting, and is yet another great storyline to follow in the East. Just think about it – Boston should be about as good as they were. Detroit should too. Orlando is retooling a bit and will be better defensively. The Bulls, Heat, and Sixers should be significantly better. So should Milwaukee and Toronto. The Wizards did what they thought they had to do. So did New Jersey and Indiana. Even some of the perennial cellar dwellers are rising – Memphis is being aggressive, Atlanta showed signs of life last year, and the Kinicks, well, at least they got rid of Isiah Thomas. The West may still be better, but the East is certainly more fascinating.