11/12/10 9:10 am EST
A couple days ago over at the terrific The Point Forward blog on cnnsi.com, erstwhile True Hooper made good Zach Lowe noticed that a couple guys on contracts previously thought to be unmovable have played them into moveability. Amongst Lowe’s phoenixes was our very own Elton Brand.
Interesting, I thought. Three games into the season I had noodled, and written a post, on this very topic, only to scrap it because it read too pie-in-the-sky. Now Lowe had shouldered the burden of the first and paved the way for me to dream aloud throughout the internet. What a country we live in.
After the jump are three trades that we and the ESPN NBA Trade Machine think could get the Brand deal off the Sixers’ dreadful, nonsense logged, books (the Sixers’ books make Decision Points look reasonable). They’d better act fast though, because, as we argued in this space the other day, his success – and value as a trade chip – probably won’t last.
Sixers Get: Bulls Get:
Luol Deng Elton Brand
Omer Asik Thaddeus Young
Taj Gibson Jodie Meeks
Why the Bulls pull the trigger: Brand’s return to his first NBA home provides Chicago with the necessary beef in the middle to bang with Boston and exploit Miami’s lone weakness. The only significant piece they have to give up is Luol Deng, who they’ve fallen out of love with anyway. Deng’s absence would also be mitigated by Young, who is similarly skilled and three years younger, and the frisky Jodi Meeks, who can serve ably as an energy guy/scoring threat off the bench. John Hollinger says this move increases their projected win total by nine.
Why they balk: Taj Gibson has been playing out of his mind in Carlos Boozer’s stead and they don’t view Brand – six years older and $15 million a year pricier – as being that much of an upgrade.
Sixers Get: Magic Get:
Brandon Bass Elton Brand
MicKael Pietrus Thaddeus Young
Why the Magic pull the trigger: They solidify their greatest strength in adding Brand, giving themselves another weapon capable of attacking Miami in the middle. And while Thad Young is somewhat of a redundant part for them, they can use the season to audition him as a (much) cheaper eventual replacement for Vince Carter or Rashard Lewis. Hollinger thinks this trade tacks two wins onto their total. Every little bit helps.
Why they balk: Orlando thinks it needs Pietrus’ (overrated) wing D if they have any shot of knocking off LeBron and Co. in the east or Kobe in the finals.
Sixers Get: Nuggets Get:
Kenyon Martin Elton Brand
Renaldo Balkman Thaddeus Young
Why the Nuggets pull the trigger: For the corpse of Kenyon Martin and the immortal Renaldo Balkman, the Nuggets get an offensively oriented interior guy to pair with Nene, a talented young swing-man who can score a little, and, in the eyes of Mr. Hollinger, increase their projected win total by 17. You like apples? Uh, how about aging fours? (slams Elton Brand basketball card against diner window)
Why they balk: With uncertainly around Melo’s status, the Nuggets may want to reserve the flexibility to blow things up and start over if the franchise leaves. Or they might just view K-Mart’s expiring deal as too valuable a piece to use on Brand.
If a trade can’t be worked out (and it’s not likely one can), it’s not impossible that the 7-6 and Brand agree to a buyout. It would be expensive (He is owed $51 million as of the beginning of this season and most buyouts are for around 75 cents on the dollar), but it would make a lot more sense than giving 35-40 minutes a night to a soon-to-be 32-year-old on a team that’s clearly rebuilding. And given the uncertainty the expiring CBA has wrought, Brand might take less than 75 percent for the freedom to join a contender rather than wait for a lockout or an across-the-board salary decrease to take the money from him anyway.
It’s still a long shot, but Elton Brand just might be playing his way out of town. And in a season short on good news, I’ll take it.