Elton Brand: A Major Piece to the 76ers Puzzle

Mark SimpsonContributor IJuly 9, 2008

Needless to say, a few weeks ago when we all heard who would be available on the NBA free agent market, I dreamt sweet dreams of how Philadelphia could turn its team around in such a weak Eastern Conference. 

With the second-most amount of money available to sign a "big-time" free agent, the 76ers were in the running for whomever was their No. 1 target. Then Baron Davis, the former point guard for the Golden State Warriors, made a big move of his own, and my dreams of Philly landing its greatest chance at a premier power forward vanished in thin air.

Davis surprised quite a few people when he signed with the L.A. Clippers after opting out of his final contract year in G.S. Of course, everyone came to the same consensus: "How could Elton Brand ever leave L.A. now?"

Plagued with a severe heel injury last season, Brand didn't play until the last couple weeks of the season, missing more than 90 percent of the Clippers' games. Still, led by Brand, the Clippers were a major threat in the West two years ago. 

However, they saw their team fall apart, most notably with Shaun Livingston suffering a terrifying leg break (if he hasn't fully recuperated in two years, will he ever be back at 100 percent?). Regardless, with Davis hoppin' on with the Clippers squad, most thought Brand would stick around to play for an improving team, or that the now-desperate Warriors would lure him to save face. Turns out that Brand felt his services were best suited elsewhere.

Now where would that be, you ask? 

In case you've been living under a rock, or just simply don't watch at least eight hours of ESPN on the good ol' tube, Brand took his 20-point and 10-board averages to the East and will now be sporting that beautiful "Phila" gear for the most passionate fans in the country (no doubt!). Brand will be making $82 million over five years, even after being offered $8 million more by Golden State.

What brought Brand to Philly? Well, he has a house in New York. Plus, he came from the East Coast, played for Duke (go to Hell, Carolina!), and this is where most of (if not all) of his family resides. 

According to him, he had the Sixers on his radar since early last year in the midst of his injury and so forth. He evaluated the Sixers' style of play and generally felt he would fit right into their "run and gun" offense. I say it's a perfect fit.

No doubt in my mind, Elton Brand will be the presence the Sixers need down low in the post. He's THAT talented of a player that most teams may feel the need to double-team him, which will open up many players, namely "Iggy" (Andre Iguodala), and Lord knows what he does with an open lane and 34.5-inch vertical (no joke!). 

Now, here's the question. Does this now make Philly a legit threat in the Eastern Conference? Good enough to make the conference finals again WITHOUT my man Allen Iverson? Not quite, but close.

The general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, Ed Stefanski (an alum of my high school...Monsignor Bonner represent!), still has work to do, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, as he stated previously, the team has no financial flexibility anymore, but does that rule out trades? 

The Sixers have tons of young talent that look very promising, so perhaps trading a veteran to a team that seems to be missing just that one piece of the puzzle could, in turn, get them the shooter they're still obviously missing.

Regardless, landing Elton Brand is a huge piece, but, as far as I'm concerned, they are one small piece of the puzzle away from solving the huge championship drought our city has endured. J.R. Smith? J.J. Redick? Eh, I know, I know, but I'm just throwing some names out there to think about.