Former top overall pick Kwame Brown hasn’t played an NBA game since February 20. The Philadelphia 76ers center was signed as a creature comfort by the Doug Collins-influenced Sixers front office last year two a needless two-year deal, and the 32-year old has no real role on this current Sixers team despite what could be an entire year lost to injury from rookie center Nerlens Noel.
With Philadelphia rebuilding and trying out a series of youngsters for gigs that won’t matter for at least a few years, some local media are wondering just why Brown is still hanging around the team. Especially with a litany of potential minor league prospects that would at least be on the ready to contribute to the team’s attempts at double-digit wins this year. From Thomas Moore at The Intelligencer:
It’s a mystery. Brown isn’t a hard worker or a leader. He was so ineffective last season that he didn’t appear in the final 30 games for a fading team despite being healthy. He has yet to practice due to a strained hamstring and doesn’t appear to be in anything close to game shape.
Give him his guaranteed $3 million — hard to believe, I know — to go away. The Sixers cannot afford to waste a spot on the 15-man roster, especially with Noel, Arnett Moultrie and Jason Richardson expected to miss more than two months as they recover from injuries. That means the Sixers are essentially already down to 12 players. Teams are permitted to dress 13 for each game.
We don’t want to be in the business of outright asking why teams don’t cut certain players, though Moore points out that Brown is still going to get his money (the probable last drop in a career that has handed Kwame Brown a frightful $64 million in career earnings), so it isn’t as if we’re taking food off of Kwame’s table.
With that in place, the Sixers punted the 2013-14 season last June when they traded Jrue Holiday, and they’re likely to punt that punt an extra few yards by going super-slow with Nerlens Noel’s recovery. If the point of this season is to lose games, accrue assets, and figure out who is going to be the eighth and ninth player in the rotation in 2015-16, why not turn 2013-14 into one large training camp? The 76ers are going to look like one massive D-League collection this season anyway, so why not hand over Brown’s spot to a young D-Leaguer that may have a chance at contributing to Philadelphia at some point down the line?
It’s not as if the Sixers are hurting salary-wise, either, by both paying Brown to go away and paying for some other youngster to join the team. As we noted in our 76ers preview, the team is well below the NBA’s salary minimum, to the point where they’ll have to pay a fine to the league if they sustain this slim payroll for the entirety of the 2013-14 season.
Every little bit of scratch counts as they attempt to get up to $52 million, and it’s not as if they can’t use the departed Brown’s contract in a trade should they ask him to take an unofficial hike. If they do officially waive him the team couldn’t use his contract in a deal, but because the Sixers are so far under the salary cap that hardly matters. They could trade a second round pick for the wildly overpaid Rudy Gay and it would be NBA-legal.
In all, this could be a disappointing and depressing end to Kwame Brown’s career. But I suppose it was pretty obvious things were eventually going to turn out this way, right?
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