The Philadelphia 76ers thought they were taking the next step when they signed Elton Brand in 2008. Yet Sixers fans like myself lived to regret it ever since, which made us relieved that his large salary finally came off the books this summer. Now Brand is going to a new team and is getting far less hoopla and money for it, although he is joining a former world champion - albeit a rebuilding one.
Brand returned to the Western Conference when the Dallas Mavericks won the bid for his services on July 13 - without needing to give him a five-year, $90 million contract like the Sixers did four years ago. However, back then Brand joined a Sixers team that had only gotten playoff berths, whereas he now joins a Mavericks squad two seasons removed from the championship.
Yet true to Brand's recent luck, he isn't joining Dallas at the best time. Since the Mavericks won it all last summer, they have been dumping players and failing to get A-list free agents in their place. With Deron Williams and Dwight Howard not coming on board after all, the Mavericks have left Dirk Nowitzki virtually all alone as he reaches the tail end of his career.
At this point, since Dallas can't get a major star, it has to settle for players who were on the verge of major stardom. For Brand, his time in Philadelphia turned him from an A-list star into an afterthought, as injuries and declining play made him a symbol of mediocrity and disappointment. As such, the Mavericks will settle for about over 10 points a game from Brand, after he averaged over 20 points with the Los Angeles Clippers years ago.
Dallas couldn't get a huge home run in this offseason, so it is settling for singles. Philadelphia is pretty much doing the same, as it only got former No. 1 draft pick bust Kwame Brown to take Brand's place on the same day. It appears that the Sixers are waiting until 2013 to make a play for a bigger star - although the Mavericks can attest to how the waiting game can deliver bitter losses.
Brand would have been lucky to join Dallas two years ago, but now he is coming on board at a much more uncertain time. Of course, since the Mavericks still have Nowitzki and still have Mark Cuban as their owner, they can find their way out of the middle of the pack in the West better than the Sixers can in the East. In that regard, Brand finally got a bit of luck.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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