NBA Free Agency 2012: Why 76ers Must Get Elton Brand off the Salary Cap

Adam Friedgood@AfriedgoodContributor IIIJune 5, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01:  Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers smiles near the end of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Bulls during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on May 1, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The 76ers defeated the Bulls 109-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 76ers must find a way to get Elton Brand and the $18.1 million he is owed next season off their salary cap as soon as possible, even though it won’t be easy. Brand has certainly fallen short of everyone’s expectations for him since signing a five-year, $82 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2008.

Before joining the 76ers, if you exclude the 2007-08 season where Brand only played in eight games, his lowest point and rebound totals in one of his eight seasons were 18.2 and 9.3, respectively. He averaged a double-double in six of those seasons, over 20 points and 10 rebounds in four of them.

Brand hasn’t come close to any of those totals, not even once, in his four seasons with Philadelphia. He hit an all-time low for his career during the playoffs this season, averaging only 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Now at age 33, there is no reason to believe Brand will turn this decline around and start producing at the level he was at when he was still playing for the Bulls and the Clippers.

Brand will be the ninth-highest-paid player in the entire NBA next season, earning more money than players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. Based on his production on the court, Brand barely deserves half of what he’s going to be paid next season.        

There are a few ways the 76ers could rid themselves of Brand and his ridiculous contract. The easiest, but most unlikely way to get Brand off their roster would be if he exercised the early termination option he has for next season.

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Steve Kyler of Hoopworld.com says he heard that Brand is willing to exercise that option, as long as the Sixers re-sign him to a multi-year deal afterwards. Since there is about a zero percent chance of the Sixers offering him anything close to the $18.1 million he is already owed under his current contract, he will definitely opt-in for the final season of his five-year deal. 

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10:  Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on April 10, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using th
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Another unlikely option for the 76ers to unload Brand to another team would be to trade him. This doesn’t seem very possible either, though, as no team will be willing to take on a superstar-level contract for a power forward who doesn’t score or rebound much anymore. The only slight chance they have of trading him would be to wait until it’s close to the trade deadline and then find a team entering a rebuilding stage and could use Brand’s enormous expiring contract.

The best decision the Sixers could make would be to use their amnesty clause on Elton Brand this offseason. By doing that, the team would be able to take Brand’s contract off their books and have nearly $30 million available to go after other free agents, like Eric Gordon or Roy Hibbert, for example.

By getting rid of Elton Brand this and replacing him with talented youth this offseason, as apposed to waiting until after his contract runs out after next season, this team that already made the playoffs last season would turn into an instant title contender. 

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