Brand's agent, David Falk, said the forward wants to see the Clippers sign a quality free agent and try to assemble a winning team in Los Angeles.
"It preserves options to make the team better," Falk said. "Clearly, if Elton decided he wanted to simply max out the dollars, he would have stayed in the deal, had a monster year and a lot more teams will have cap room next year."
This is fine logic from Brand, in theory. The only problem is that the position his opting out has put his team in. Earlier today, Corey Maggette opted out as well. On the surface, this looks like excellent news, cap-wise, for the Clippers. If you remove Brand and Maggette from their cap number they've got a ton of space. Here's the problem. Both of the players still count against their cap space unless they renounce their rights. If they renounce their rights, they lose their Bird Rights to re-sign either player, and cannot go over the cap to bring them back. This would also limit them in any sign-and-trade deals. If they renounced Brand, they could only sign him for as much room as they have under the cap, same with Maggette.
In a nutshell, if the Clippers need to bring in another quality free agent to prove to Elton Brand that they are a team headed in the right direction, they'll first have to renounce Corey Maggette and take his cap-hold number off the books (150% of previous salary = $10.5M). Once they do this, they will have 5 players under contract for a total of $28.4M. Add in the contract for the #6 pick in the draft, Eric Gordon ($2.394M) and figure a minimum salary of $797,000 for DeAndre Jordan, picked at #36. Now you have 7 players counting against the cap for a total of $31.591M. If you figure the Clippers get up to the minimum of 12 players counting against the cap with minimum contracts for players with one year of experience, then you're at $34.78M, not including the cap hold number for Brand. Now, this is where it gets tricky.
Going by the rules of the CBA, as I follow them (check out a helpful Q&A here), Elton Brand's cap-hold number should be 150% of what he made in '07-'08, which would be $23.016M. So add that to the number above and the Clippers total salary against the cap would be $57.79M, and they'd have maybe $2M or $3M under the cap to go out and get that free agent who may or may not convince Brand to stay.
There is, however, one thing I'm unclear about. $23.016 is way over the max salary, and I think it's more than the Clippers would be allowed to pay Brand. I believe the max contract for Brand (9 years of experience) should be about $15.65M, or 30% of the cap. They can go higher than that number, but no higher than $16.1M (105% of previous year's salary). If the cap hold number is limited to the max contract they could offer Brand, then the Clippers would have more wiggle room to bring in another free agent, maybe as much as $10M.
I think the best chance the Clippers have at satisfying Brand's demands is a sign-and-trade of Maggette, although I don't think they're going to get a player back who is better than Maggette. In other words, if Brand truly wants to play for a winner, his best bet is to wait for a sign and trade between the Clippers and a good team, or to sign as a free agent with another team (like the Sixers).
By no means am I a qualified capologist. I cobbled together all of this from online sources, linked to above. Please let me know if you have anything to correct and/or add to the thought process.
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