8 Worst free agent signings in Philadelphia 76ers history

Philadelphia 76ers Logo (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for PGD Global)
Philadelphia 76ers Logo (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for PGD Global) /
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1. Elton Brand

I hate to do our current general manager like this, but unfortunately Elton Brand lands as the worst free-agent signing in the Philadelphia 76ers franchise history. As I mentioned on the first slide this is not about how good a player was, because both Al Horford and Elton Brand are multi-time All-Stars in the NBA. But when you look at the production Brand provided to the Sixers compared to expectations based on the length and amount of the contract he signed, this is likely the worst.

For some background, Brand went to Duke where he played under Mike Krzyzewski for two years before entering the 1999 NBA draft. Back then, a player leaving early from a school like Duke was almost unheard of, but Brand was a special talent and ready for the NBA. In his sophomore season at Duke, Brand won the National Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Year awards as well as being a first-team All-American.

Brand’s dominance in college led him to be drafted 1st overall by the Chicago Bulls. Brand is the second first-overall pick to land on this list after Kwame Brown. In his first two seasons in Chicago, Brand lived up to the hype of a number-one pick, starting all but one game he was available to play and averaging 20.1 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Clippers after his second season.

In Los Angeles Brand thrived. He made two All-Star teams and one All-NBA team during his seven years with the Clippers. With the Clippers Brand had four seasons where he averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. His career-high season averages maxed out at 24.7 points and 11.6 rebounds. The last season in LA, Brand had an Achilles injury that had him sidelined for the majority of the season. This might have been the first sign of his decline.

In the summer of 2008, Brand went cross country to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers for 5 years and $82 million. At the time of the contract signing, the Sixers felt they were getting a star center in his prime that could propel this team to the next level. And why shouldn’t they have felt that way? Brand was a stud with the Clippers. Unfortunately for the 76ers, it did not carry over in Philly.

Brand’s first season in Philadelphia was cut short by a shoulder injury and he played in only 29 games. Over the subsequent three years, Brand was the starting center for the Sixers, but his production dropped drastically. His scoring average dropped almost 40% from his peak in Los Angeles and he only averaged over 14 points per game once during his four years here. That is unacceptable for a player being paid what Brand was being paid and playing over 30 minutes per game.

Maybe we are spoiled now with Joel Embiid averaging 33 points in 30 minutes per game, but to have a starting center in this league not able to get 15 points at a time that was still favorable to centers. It is different now with the stretch big men, but in Brand’s playing era, he should have been able to thrive.

As I said at the beginning of this article, these rankings are not about how good a player is because Brand arguably gave the Sixers more production than any other player on this list. The problem is he came into the league as the first overall pick and prior to Philly was an All-Star caliber player. Brand never lived up to that hype here and did not really get close.