Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brand signing big for the Sixers

Now that it seems likely that Elton Brand will sign a 5-year, $82 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Sixers' front office appear to be serious about improving a team that managed to take two games from the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs.

In order to acquire some space to make the signing, the Sixers agreed to send Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, and a future No. 1 pick to Minnesota for a $2.8 million trade exception and a future second round draft pick.

The 29-year-old Brand seems completely healthy after rupturing his left Achilles tendon in August of 2007. Because of the injury, he played in only the last eight games with the Clippers last season.

With Brand on board, the Sixers have a formidable starting five, which may include Andre Miller (17.0 points, 6.9 assists), Andre Iguodala (19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.1 steals), Thaddeus Young (8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds), Brand (career average of 20.3 points, 10.2 rebounds), and Samuel Dalembert (10.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks). The main contributors off the bench will include guard Willie Green (12.4 points), point guard Louis Williams (11.5 points), power forward Reggie Evans (5.2 points, 7.5 rebounds), and power forward Jason Smith (4.5 points). Newly drafted center Marreesse Speights will be a work in progress.

Needless to say, with the addition of Brand in the post, the quick and athletic Sixers will be a tough matchup for almost any team. The Sixers, though, will need to address one thing: 3-point shooting. Louis Williams is the only consistent shooting threat from the outside, and he made just under 36% of his threes last season. The next closest are Iguodala (32.9%), Young (31.6%), and Green (28.5%) -- not very good.

The Sixers may not be ready to overtake the top teams in the East -- Boston, Detroit, Orlando, and Cleveland -- but next season may be Philly's best since the Allen Iverson years.

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