Could (Should) The Wizards Go After Elton Brand?
There’s been a couple comments on this blog and on Bullets Forever pertaining to the Wizards attempting to acquire Elton Brand, who has the choice to opt of the last year of his contract just like Gilbert Arenas. Well, let’s explore some hypothetical scenarios.
The first question you must ask is will Elton Brand even opt-out. He’s been quoted in the papers that he is thinking “more and more about his future,” and that “if negotiations go right between the team and David Falk, his agent, that he will return. If so, it will probably be under a new contract.”
Brand knows another injury could be just around the corner and wants to secure his financial future. He also knows that at the age of 29, he’s still a hot commodity. Sounds like a guy who wants to opt-out and get a fat 6-year contract to me. If Brand decides not to opt-out, he stays with the Clippers for 1-year at $16,440,000 million.
It’s also worth mentioning Corey Maggette, as he could also come into play. He’s more likely to opt-out as he’s desperate to get paid and feels he’s worth more than the $7 milli he would get next year. Maggette has also had issues with Mike Dunleavy, citing lack of defense. But Dunleavy has gone on record saying that he wants Maggette back.
It seemingly all depends on the checkbook of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. True, he’s recently become a little more free spending, but might not find Maggette to be a smart investment, leading Brand to question commitment to winning.
Scenario 1: The Pink Elephant
Somehow, something happens and Gilbert Arenas gets mad…..or he suddenly wants to leave DC because he doesn’t like the weather, or because he flips a coin, or because he figured out that ‘Clipper’ has seven letters, the same amount of crosses tattooed on his surgically repaired knee….whatever the case, Gilbert just wants to get the hell out of Chocolate City.
At the same time, out in LA, Donald Sterling wants more BRI (baskeball related income) and figures that someone flashy like Gilbert Arenas will sell more seats than Elton Brand, the quiet leader. Could you imagine both Arenas and Kobe Bryant playing in the same arena in La-La land….the Staples Center Duo? And Gilbert, wanting something new to overcome, figures his moxie would be best served playing in the shadow of the reigning MVP.
The Clippers and Wizards could just do a 1-for-1 sign-and-trade (legally I believe you can – in 2005 the Bulls sent Antonio Davis and a sign-&-traded Eddy Curry to the Knicks for Tim Thomas, Mike Sweetney, a sign-&-traded Jermaine Jackson, and a couple 2nd round picks). But Gilbert for Brand straight up would throw each team in such disarray personnel wise, others would need to be included……unless the teams make other moves aside from Brand for Arenas; perfectly possible, but it’s asking a lot.
- Part 1: Arenas and Brand are of similar value….one can assume, so you give them each 6-year, $109 million contracts with $14.5 mill in year 1 and 9% yearly increases (rounded yearly payment schedule = 1: $14.5, 2: $15.8, 3: $17.2, 4: $18.8, 5: $20.5, 6: $22.3).
- Part 2: Clippers sign Corey Maggette and trade him to the Wizards, contingent on letting Antawn Jamison walk (also, with Haywood at 5, Brand at 4, and Butler at 3….that would leave Jamison out of the starting rotation…but it’s not like AJ hasn’t played 6th man before). So, if Maggette is almost four years younger than Jamison, do you give him Jamison money, but for six years? ($9.5 million in year 1 and 8.5% yearly increases – $70 million total) Maggette’s last contract was 6-years, $42 million. Is Maggette worth that much more?
- Part 3: Going back to LA in exchange for Maggette would be Etan Thomas (to “replace” Brand), Oleksiy Pecherov (a young big), and the 18th pick. [Good god, I think the Clippers might rather have the cap room by letting Maggette walk.]
How would both teams look?
SG: Maggette, Stevenson, Young
SF: Caron Butler, Maggette
PF: Brand, Songaila, McGuire
C: Haywood, Blatche
PG: Livingston, Knight
SG: Arenas, Mobley
SF: Thornton, Powell
PF: T. Thomas, Pecherov
C: Kaman, E. Thomas
I don’t have to go any further before realizing that his is a terrible idea…..for both teams.
[a couple days pass........]
On second thought, this might not be the worst idea in the world…..but point guard would be a great concern. Would Maggette mesh? Would the Lock Smith come off the pine? Does this bury Nick Young? Do the Wizards play someone like Stevenson as the back up point to get Nick more time? Use the MLE on Roger Mason as the backup PG? Would the Clippers want Nick Young to be thrown in the deal?
It’s possible that as an alternative the Wizards could let Jamison walk and just sign Maggette to a 5-year contract. Then you could keep some depth in not having to give up Etan, Oleksiy, and the pick. But you would have to sign Maggette before trading Arenas for Brand because, as I understand it, you can’t sign Maggette for anything more than the MLE if Brand’s new contract pushes the Wiz over the cap.
….so many questions, my head hurts…… not to mention that Clippers fans are probably laughing their asses off at the above suggestions. At the end of the day, moving Arenas for Brand doesn’t sit well with me as I’m patient enough to keep giving it a go with the Big Three.
Scenario 2: Ernie Grunfeld, the Dream Merchant
No, our local DC NBA GM has not teamed up with 9th Wonder to drop a new album…..Is there a scenario where the Wizards get Elton Brand without giving up any of the tres grande?
1. Abe Pollin must say “Eff it — I want another ring while I’m still young. Ernie, you have my full blessing to travel down luxury tax highway.”
2. It would have to be a sign and trade and the Wizards would be giving up depth.
e="font-size:130%;">3. The Clippers (and Donald Sterling) would rather piss off their fan base and rebuild with youth…..this decision could also hinge on the Clippers position after May 20th, when the NBA draft lottery takes place. The Clips finished with the 6th worst record in the NBA and have a 7.5% chance at landing the top pick.
4. Elton Brand wants to leave…..while the Clippers have some pieces, they are much further away from contending (especially in the West) than the Wizards. Chad Ford thinks that Brand going championship chasing is a possibility….Clippers Nation doesn’t see Brand playing for any team other than the Clippers next season.
Assuming the above, what kind of package could the Wizards offer in a sign-and-trade?
First you gotta ask the question, does Elton Brand’s worth = Gilbert Arena’s worth?
In scenario #1, I assumed that Brand and Arenas were of similar value, hence both worth 6-year, $109 million contracts. Brand’s last contract was for 6-years and $82.2 million (the Clippers matched an offer from the Miami Heat in July of 2003). Arenas’ last contract was for 6-years and $64 million. That’s about a 70% increase for Gilbert over his last contract, while just a 33% increase for Brand.
Both players are coming off serious injuries. Gilbert Arenas is three years younger and sells more jerseys. Brand might be a more desirable piece as a shot blocking big man who doesn’t command the ball. My head might explode. I’m just going to stick with the idea that these two will receive similar contracts as stated.
In scenario #2, the Clippers want to save money and the Wizards want to spend more money….so we will invoke the Traded Player Exception….simultaneous style (as both teams are over the salary cap). Meaning, in order for the Wizards to accept Brand’s signed contract, paying him $14.5 million in year one, the Wizards must send $11.520 million in contacts (the 125% + $100K rule) back to the Clippers.
1. The Clippers want both Nick Young and Andray Blatche. Their salaries for next year equal $4,342,628 million — $7,177,372 left to ship.
2. Well, that’s easy…..just give the Clippers Etan Thomas ($6,864,200) and Dominic McGuire ($711,517) and your sending back $11,918,345 to LA. The Clippers get three promising young players, two who grew up in SoCal, and Etan’s contract comes off the books in two years when Clipper Steve wants to make moves on the free-agent market.
- The Wizards start: Arenas, Stevenson, Butler, Jamison, and Brand.
- The bench includes: Haywood, Songaila, Daniels, Pecherov, 18th pick, maybe Roger Mason (sacrificing youth and depth, huh?…..well, I’m sure that championship chasing elders would want to sign with the Wizards for the minimum)
- The Clippers roster: I don’t care.
3. Not so fast my friend….you just got Lee Corso’d. The Clippers just called…..they don’t want Etan Thomas, they want Brendan Haywood (they like Kaman as their starting center, but Haywood could be trade bait); and they don’t want Dominic McGuire, they want a future 1st rounder. Haywood’s salary for next season is only $5.5 million…..so the Wizards would have to find more money to send to the Clippers. Does Haywood, Blatche, Young, another player, and a pick seem way too much to give up for Elton Brand? My intuition says yes.
As this rough outline doesn’t meticulously factor in every financial scenario such as trade kickers, bonuses, salary cap, etc…. the point being: is Elton Brand a plausible option for the Wizards? Sure, anything is possible. But these scenarios hinge on unpredictable player desires and nondescript team goals. There will also be plenty of other teams vying for the services of Brand……Philadelphia and Miami come to mind. The safe money is on Brand returning to the Clippers alongside Kaman, Thornton & Co.
Recapping scenario 1: I am vehemently opposed to blowing up the Wizards. This franchise only evokes worse karma in the future if they jettison both Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. #2: In my dreams, might the Clippers be persuaded by Young, Blatche, Thomas, McGuire and a future 1st rounder (or two)? Something tells me that as easily as I would pull the trigger on that trade, the Clippers would just as easily reject it. Then again, Brand could walk (for a lesser, 5-year contract) and leave LA’s 2nd team with zilch. In any case, the possibility is at least worth the price of a phone call to the west coast.