Elton Brand to return for 16th NBA season

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Teams looking for a veteran reserve big man this year can put Elton Brand on the list.

Brand was brought into Atlanta as a backup last summer but was thrust into a larger role when Al Horford went down — and he was solid in that role. His midrange jumper — he shot 49.6 percent from the midrange and thrived in the free throw line/elbow areas — became a consistent weapon for the team. He wasn’t going to score a lot (5.7 points a game, although that went up later in the season) but he was efficient when he shot, which is what you want out of a role player. He was solid on the glass and on defense.

Brand finished third in win shares per 48 minutes on the team, behind only Horford and Paul Millsap (Brand was fifth overall in total win shares).

After that kind of season, Brand wants to return for his 16th in the NBA, he told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“My body feels good,” the 34-year-old Brand said. “I’m already training for next season.”

Brand said he started his preparations for another season with Hawks strength and conditioning coach Jeff Watkinson and is currently working out in Pennsylvania in preparation for another year. The NBA free agency period begins July 1 and players can sign contracts starting on July 10.

Brand can play somewhere next season, he would make a solid, veteran reserve off the bench a team can sign for around $3 million, give or take. That’s an affordable deal.

Whether he gets that deal in Atlanta remains to be seen.

Obviously Horford and Millsap are going to get most of the minutes up front if healthy. After that the Hawks have improving rookie Pero Antic. Gustavo Ayon also is on the roster. Does Brand fit in there or can the Hawks get a younger, better version for next season.

One way or another, somewhere in late July or early August somebody is going to give Brand a nice one-year deal and the 35 year old will be back for one more season. At least.