Elton Brand has been a let down to fans in Philadelphia. A max deal guy not playing up to his standards in a tough town. His first year there he played just 29 games due to injury. His second season he was back for 76 games but was just average, not fully recovered and stuck on a bad team. Last season he was good — not the very good Brand from his Clippers years, not the very good Brand the Sixers paid top dollar for, but still Brand was good and his 15 points and 8 rebounds a game was one reason the Sixers made the playoffs.
That said, he is owed $35 million over the next two years and is seen by many fans as an anchor on the team’s rebuilding effort. So, when the NBA finally gets its labor mess together and that includes an amnesty clause — where teams can let a player go and write down his salary off the cap — is Elton Brand the guy sent walking?
No, says Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Not even close.
First, if the NBA does lose this season because of the ongoing labor negotiations, Brand will only have 1-year/$18 million remaining on his contract. At that point, he becomes a great trade chip, if nothing less. But more to the point, this amnesty clause is there to be used on players producing at very low percentages of their contract value. It’s true that Brand is no longer worth a max contract or $17-18 million a year, but last season (81 games played, 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds a game) he was probably worth 70-80 percent of that money. The franchise would be waiving a double-double player and only saving a few million dollars (if you consider that they’d have to sign a player to replace him, anyway). It’s just not worth it to the Sixers to lose Brand’s services, when he’s producing at a solid level. In addition, Brand isn’t a trouble maker. You could make the argument for waiving Brand under this clause if he was a disruption or if he was a liability in the locker room. But nothing could be further from the truth. Brand might make up for (some of) his diminished on-court value with his leadership skills and steady presence….
So what move would make more sense if you took this approach to using the amnesty clause? Waiving Andres Nocioni. This is assuming the league and union agree to a new CBA this season because Nocioni has 1-year/$6.7 million remaining on his contract (and a team option for the 2012-13 season).
Fans across the nation will feel like the fans in Philly — they will see the amnesty clause as a way to punish players that frustrate them, that haven’t lived up to expectations. But Fagan is spot on — it’s better to overpay a player who is giving you some value and let go of a player who makes less but doesn’t add as much.
There will be surprises. Remember back in 2005 the amnesty clause was referred to as the Alan Houston Rule — and the Knicks kept Houston. Of course, that was the Knicks 2000s, so logic need not apply.