Mavs get Elton Brand cheaply; plans still in line
July, 13, 2012
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
Elton Brand, welcome to the retooled -- and still-retooling -- Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs on Friday found out they won the bidding for Brand, the 6-foot-8 veteran power forward who was waived via the amnesty clause by the Philadelphia 76ers. He'll join Dirk Nowitzki and former Clippers teammate Chris Kaman to form a new-look and versatile front line. Brand, the No. 1 pick in 1999, has started 830 of 860 career games, but he would now figure to follow a long line of vets into Dallas that go from career starter to key reserve.
As for the 7-foot Kaman, he announced his arrival in Dallas on Friday via Twitter and the team announced the completion of his one-year, $8 million deal Friday evening. With Wednesday's sign-and-trade that netted point guard Darren Collison and defensive-minded wing Dahntay Jones, the Mavs have impressively turned the corner on their depressing start to free agency.
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireElton Brand gives the Mavericks frontcourt depth and versatility.
Brand, 33, might not be the player he once was, but he is a solid fit on the Mavs' roster and their books. As for the salary cap, he's on the final year of his deal that will pay him $18.2 million. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that Dallas' winning bid was $2.1 million, a good deal less than many expected the Mavs' so-called "aggressive" bid to be and an amount that easily qualifies Brand as the league's best backup power forward/center value.
The Mavs are responsible for the $2.1 million of Brand's salary with the 76ers picking up the balance. With the Mavs' grand plan to keep their cap space clear for a run at a max-contract star next summer, this move continues to further that cause with another quality player in the short-term.
"We have our plan and are sticking to it," owner Mark Cuban said.
On the floor, the long-armed Brand gives Dallas a heady, low-post defender and rim protector. He'll almost assuredly be asked to back up Nowitzki at power forward and then easily slide to center, where he played a significant number of minutes last season for Philadelphia.
"I did it all last season," Brand said of playing center. "Of course, there’s a few guys we all have trouble with, but I’m not worried about it all."
Entering his 14th season, Brand might be at the perfect spot to transfer his somewhat declining mid-range offensive game to a bench role yet still play close to starter's minutes. He averaged career lows last season in scoring (11.0 points per game) and minutes (28.9), and put up his second-lowest rebounding totals (7.2). It was the first time in Brand's career that he averaged fewer than 30 minutes.
"Good pickup for us," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Different type of player than we currently have; can play 4 or 5, versatile and experienced."
With the winning bid at $2.1 million, the Mavs still keep cap space open, believed to be about $4 million, for additional moves as this busy week continues.
A source close to the situation says the acquisition of Brand has not diminished the Mavs' interest in power forward Luis Scola, just let go by the Rockets via amnesty. He has three years left on his deal and wouldn't seem an ideal fit on the floor. However, he, like Brand, would come cheaply through the amnesty process and could become a trade asset. The Mavs don't have to decide whether they will make a bid for Scola until Sunday, with the winning bid being revealed at 4 p.m. that day.
The Mavs also have other needs. Combo guard Delonte West remains unsigned. Dallas could bring him back on their "room" exception of $2.5 million. They are also in the market for perimeter shooting, a glaring weakness on the roster at the moment.
"We feel like there’s a lot of summer left," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Friday. "We’re still involved in talking to a lot of different people about a lot of different situations. We love shooters. We’re going to address that as we move forward here."