We all agree that Elton Brand’s contract is way overpriced. But why? I’m going to say that some bad luck in his first two seasons with the Sixers made the contract bad. First, time to justify the signing.
When the Sixers finished the 2007-2008 season, they were an exciting team going to the playoffs. They went against the half-court based Detroit Pistons. Why mention half-court? Sixers were the complete opposite: Fast break. But, as we’ve seen especially with the Phoenix Suns, the fast break won’t get you far. The difference with the Suns and Sixers was the Sixers played defense. So anyway, in the playoffs, the pace of the game usually slows down and it becomes very important to have a half-court game plan. But the Sixers didn’t have the inside presence to make any half-court game work well.
So, after the Sixer give a minor scare vs the Pistons after leading 2-1, Sixers eventually fall 4-2. Then, the off-season. Elton Brand was probably the best player available that year. And the Sixers needed him. Why? Well he was one of 4 active players with career averages of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Nice. Why was it risky? He had just come off a major injury: torn ACL. Those types of injuries end careers. Elton Brand was 29 though and he came back from that injury averaging a double-double just like before. It seemed like the right choice.
I think every GM in the league would have signed him in the same conditions the Sixers were in.
So now we’ve justified the signing. Why is this signing unlucky? First season with the team Elton goes down in a freak accident. He got owned on a pump fake and ended up falling over the player and landing on his shoulder. Though he played some more games, the injury pretty much ended his season. Then, 2009-2010 season came along. I still cannot say the name of the coach who was in charge so if you don’t know, look it up. But any Sixer fan probably knows about that terribly, frustrating season. Because the coach had these wacky rotations, the entire team just wasn’t in the swing of things. But hey, it got us Evan Turner, who looks to be a valuable asset in a couple of years.
So, with those two scenarios, you can’t really get mad at Elton Brand. You can’t get mad at Stefanski. The Sixers just didn’t have the luck of the Irish (um…luck of the cards?) go their way those two seasons. But last season Elton was the only consistent player on the team and was the engine that kept the Sixers in the playoff hunt. I could go one about how amazing their playoff run went but that would take away from this post.
So, in the end, Sixers lost money from the signing but it’s nobody’s fault. It probably would have been a bad choice if he had more ACL problems. But he didn’t. And that’s why Sixers were unlucky. But let me challenge (rebuttal) myself. Was it all unlucky? Sixers ended up with Jrue Holiday and Turner. They are projected to be one of the best back-courts in the league someday. And that’s pretty lucky when you consider that Holiday is the 16th pick and Sixers got the luck of the lottery and instead of picking 5 (or 6th I forget) they jumped to 2nd and got Turner. Bitter. Sweet.