Well, so much for that. Just days ago Clipper Nation going ga-ga over the potential pairing of Baron Davis and Elton Brand. Now those hopes and dreams have been shattered, as the LA Times reports that Brand has signed a 5-year $80 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The move is rather shocking for several reasons. When Davis agreed to terms with the Clippers, a mere 24 hours after the NBA free agent period began, many observers assumed that the move had been prearranged between Brand and Davis. When Brand opted out of his contract, he indicated that it was done partially for the Clippers to obtain extra salary cap room and sign a big-name free agent... like a Baron Davis. He explicitly said that it was his intent to remain a Clipper. And while most players who have been in a Clipper uniform for any extended period of time seem desperate to take the first plane out of town, Brand had established firm roots in Los Angeles, having set up a production company and produced the movie Rescue Dawn.
While the Sixers will have one of the better Eastern Conference teams now with Brand, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, and Samuel Dalembert, it's hard to argue that a Clipper team with Brand, Davis, Eric Gordon, and Chris Kaman wouldn't have been better. Now, Elton Brand, who has always had a squeaky clean image, will branded in this town as a traitor.
As for the Clippers, one can't help but feel for them. The organization finally seemed to be doing everything right, bringing in one star player to complement another, and spending big money to do so. They offered Brand as much as they could have, and it's not clear that it was much less than what Philadelphia offered. Now they theoretically have plenty of cap room to go after some big free agents. But many of the top names have already made their decisions, including Corey Maggette who reached terms with the Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers are rumored to be interested in signing Josh Smith from Atlanta, a budding superstar who has shown immaturity, but Smith is a restricted free agent, meaning the Hawks can match any offer. They could also make a run at a restricted free agent like Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls. Or they could wait to use that cap space on a big free agent next year.