In a much anticipated move, the Philadelphia 76ers have amnestied veteran power forward Elton Brand, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. The team has formally cleared the former All-Star's $18.2 million of the books for this coming season using the new clause that came out of last season's lockout.
Coming off of several troubling knee injuries, Brand simply was not the same player who signed such a lucrative deal. Though still effective, he fit much better in a complimentary role and was not a long term part of the Sixers' game plan.
The team has built an identity around their youthful core, and Brand, at 33 with the knees of a 50-year-old, did not fit the program.
Now that he is officially a free agent, rumors have already begun to swirl about where Brand will take his game next season.
The way that the amnesty clause works, teams that are currently under the salary cap have the first crack at bringing in Brand. These teams include the Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers among others and could all use a proven big man that can make an impact on both ends of the floor.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports tweeted that the Indiana Pacers are another team considering bidding for Elton Brand once he is formally amnestied.
The Pacers still have to decide whether they want to match Portland's max contract offer to Roy Hibbert, and should they let the big man walk Brand would be a far cheaper option in the middle who could fill in for him.
Personally, I think Indiana will match Hibbert's deal and effectively take themselves out of the running for Elton Brand, but it's always possible that they play the fiscal responsibility card.
One team already expressing interest in Elton Brand is the Dallas Mavericks, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Dallas has dealt with plenty of adversity and turmoil this offseason, losing out on both Deron Williams and Jason Kidd after clearing their roster in the hopes of bringing in an impact free agent this summer.
Brand could step in immediately and start alongside Dirk Nowitzki either at power forward or center, he is capable of protecting the basket and hitting the glass as well as scoring with his back to the basket. The Mavs need all the talent they can get and Brand represents a low-risk, high-reward investment for the team.
New York Knicks
According to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling, one team already believed to be out of the running for Brand is the New York Knicks. Zwerling states that Brand would be willing to take a veteran's minimum contract, and New York would make sense because the team does not have much cap space and needs a quality reserve power forward behind Amar'e Stoudemire.
However, perhaps because he spent time battling them as a divisional rival, it appears Brand simply has no interest in playing for New York. This is understandable, the team is far from a title favorite and he would not see a ton of time on the floor playing alongside Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
Should Brand pass through the amnesty waivers, TNT's David Aldridge reports that the Brooklyn Nets would be interested in signing him. The one position Brooklyn does not have shored up for the foreseeable future is the 4 spot, where they currently only have rebounding demon Reggie Evans under contract
Kris Humphries is a free agent, and likely to be expensive to bring back, so grabbing Brand on a one or two-year deal would make plenty of sense. He would get the minutes he deserves, play for a contender, but not make a huge dent in the team's cap space.
In perhaps the least surprising development of the Elton Brand saga, Ethan Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post states that the Miami Heat will be aggressive in pursuing Brand should he clear waivers. The team could still use another scoring big man to play opposite Chris Bosh and Brand would give them another productive frontcourt player with postseason experience.
Obviously this story is still developing, and I'll keep updating along the way as Brand's future becomes more clear.