Free Agency officially began today, and moves have already been made that no one was expecting. It seems that three teams, for the most part, have been involved in the wheeling and dealing that has transpired over the past week or so (culminating in today's events).
Golden State Warriors
Most notably, the boys from the Bay Area lost Baron Davis to the Clippers. Davis is most likely now regretting that decision after the debauchery Carlos Boo - I mean, Elton Brand pulled off today. More on that later.
In Davis, the Warriors had a player who can control games by himself and a player who plays with relatively high energy for someone enjoying the superstar status that he does. It is safe to say, at least from an outsider's point of view, that Baron Davis was the heart, soul, and skill of that high-octane Warriors team.
Golden State also lost athletic wingman Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus, the 6'6", 215 pounder from Guadeloupe, is a very underrated player. Stuck behind similar players on the Warriors, Pietrus now has a chance to start on a Magic team that continues to improve. I love this move for Orlando.
Moving off of the negatives and on to something that one could consider positive, the Warriors inked former Clipper guard Corey Maggette, a player who reportedly had a lot of interest around the league, including from the World Champion Boston Celtics (yes, I can say that now.) However, he opted to go to Golden State.
Maggette is a mediocre defender at best, and always wants to be the number one offensive option. However, he is a very talented scorer and should be able to replace some of the scoring that the Warriors lost when Davis bolted, but make no mistake: Maggette is not near the player that Baron Davis is.
Overall, I'd say that the Warriors really hurt their chances of making the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference by losing their heart and soul (and talent), as well as a great defensive stopper.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers and Warriors have already tangled with each other twice this offseason with Maggette going to Golden State and Davis traveling south to Los Angeles. He provides one of the many things the Clippers needed desperately: someone capable of running the point.
The other team from Los Angeles got unlucky with the horrific Livingston injury, but now have Davis to run the point. Unfortunately, their two other notable players left.
Elton Brand took the money and ran to Philly. The unfortunate part about the whole situation is that Brand opted out of his contract and gave the Clipper franchise his word (and ESPN.com) that he would re-sign for less money to try and contend.
Brand says he had a better offer (money-wise) from Golden State, but that does not change my opinion that he took the money and ran with it. According to sources, Brand had a five year, $81 million offer from the Clippers, but took a five year, $82 million dollar deal from Philly. Clearly, something went awry.
You have to admire Philly for pulling off a move such as the one they did today with the second-most famous Elton, but honestly, I do not like what they have done. In Brand, you get an aging, injury-prone player who has played for mostly losing teams. The 76ers are made up of young, high energy, athletic players.
Can the marriage work? I don't think it will. But you can't really predict that.
What is not being talked about is what else Philadelphia had to give up in order to clear cap room to obtain Brand.
In a cap-clearing trade with Minnesota, the 76ers traded a young player with a decent amount of potential in Rodney Carney, a veteran in Calvin Booth, and a first-round draft pick in exchange for a "future conditional second-round draft pick," whatever that means.
This is an extremely one sided trade that needs to be factored into the acquiring of Brand.
To break it down, the Sixers traded Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, a first round draft pick, and the rest of their cap space for Brand. In the end, I don't think it will be worth it, though the Sixers will definitely improve.
If this is just the beginning of free agency, I can't wait until it's all over.