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In a dramatic ending to a whirlwind courtship, Elton Brand is on the brink of spurning the Los Angeles Clippers and signing a five-year, $80 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, a source familiar with the negotiations said.
Brand can’t officially sign with 76ers until 12:01 EST on Wednesday, but Sixers officials are privately telling peers around that league that Brand has convinced them he’s coming to play in Philadelphia.
The Los Angeles Times first reported Brand had made a verbal commitment to sign on Tuesday night.
As Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday afternoon, Brand had been swayed the 76ers’ way on Tuesday and dismissed a late push by the Clippers to return to his Eastern roots. After angering Brand by refusing to raise its initial offer upon his opt-out last week, Philadelphia GM Ed Stefanski deftly created more cap space to accommodate the Sixers’ offer.
Now, Brand, one of the league’s elite power forwards, joins Sam Dalembert and Andre Iguodala to give Philadelphia a formidable frontline. The Sixers are suddenly candidates to move into the upper echelon of the conference. As for the Clippers, this turned out to be one more disaster in a history of them.
So much for the Baron and Brand Show. So much for the Clippers returning to relevance in Los Angeles.
Brand, 29, had been expected to return to the Clippers after opting out of $16.4 million in the final year of his contract, especially once Golden State’s Baron Davis agreed to join him in Los Angeles. Yet, Brand waited for Stefanski to create more cap space for him – which he did on Monday night by dumping two contracts on Minnesota – and it wasn’t long until the Sixers were confident they could lure Brand.
What had come to hurt the Clippers’ chances of retaining Brand has been the organization's refusal to offer anything but a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal since Golden State made its $90-plus million offer. People close to Brand say that “it pissed him off,” and made him question his original desire to stay a Clipper.
This is a devastating blow to the Clippers, who had believed Brand when he said he would stay for less money should they bring a talented teammate to join him. Golden State has offered the most money, but Brand, who missed all but eight games a year ago with a knee injury, had been intrigued with returning to his Eastern roots. Now, it appears he’ll do just that.