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Baby ... Bathwater ... Elton Brand Trade Rumors

You can choose whichever platitude makes you happy: Throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Cutting off your nose to spite your face. They all apply to the Elton Brand trade rumors we've all been hearing. After the jump I'll give you my take on the situation.

Let me start by saying I'm not against trading Elton Brand, in theory. If the Suns called today and offered Amare Stoudemire for Elton Brand and a few draft picks, I'd do it. No one is untouchable on this roster, and there are probably only 2 or 3 guys in the entire league who are entirely untouchable. If you get blown away, you make the deal.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about why trading Elton Brand for anything but top dollar makes no sense whatsoever at this point.

The arguments for trading Brand, at least the ones I've read, go something like this.

  1. He doesn't fit into the Sixers up-tempo style.
  2. He's injury prone.
  3. He's hasn't recovered from the Achilles injury, and he may never be what he once was.
  4. His contract is going to handcuff this team for the next four seasons.
  5. The Sixers are a better team without him.
  6. They should've signed Josh Smith.
  7. They should try to get under the cap for that magical (and shrinking) 2010 free agent class.
I think that about sums it up. Now, I'm not going to tell you you're wrong if you ascribe to any of the reasons above. You may very well wind up being proved correct. What I will tell you is that the Sixers don't have enough information to make a judgment on any of those points right now. To pull the plug on the Brand era now would be like pulling the plug on it the day after you signed him. If you want to, I suppose you can pin the team's horrendous start entirely on EB. You'd be wrong, but you could do it.

Instead of falling for the same knee-jerk reaction the media is trying to lure us into, let's look deeper. What was responsible for the slow start? Here is the list I've come up with, in no particular order:

  • Mo Cheeks failure to integrate EB into the offense.
  • Mo Cheeks insistence on pounding the ball into the post, slowing the game down.
  • Andre Iguodala's poor start.
  • Andre Miller's slow start.
  • Lou Williams' slow start.
  • The bench's inability to hold a lead for the first month of the season.
  • Mo Cheeks' insistence on wholesale substitutions at the end of the first quarter/beginning of the second quarter.
  • Poor team shooting.
  • Too many turnovers.
  • A difficult early schedule.
  • Elton Brand's Achilles injury.
  • The deterioration of EB's post game, due to age or injuries.
  • Elton Brand's slow start in general.
  • The front office's failure to add a legitimate three-point threat to the rotation.
  • Kareem Rush's allergic reaction to playing any semblance of defense.
  • Billy King's signing of Willie Green and Samuel Dalembert to long-term contracts.
  • Trying to force Andre Iguodala to be a shooting guard.
  • The fact that Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller and Elton Brand are all doomed to be nothing more than second bananas, and the team doesn't have a true go-to-guy.
Every single one of those reasons may be the root cause. It may be a combination of them. It may be none of them. One of them may have caused the rest. My point is that we just don't know. You have to look at this situation scientifically. You take all the variables and try to find a way to isolate them.

This leaves us with a series of questions the team needs to answer. Until you know the answer to them, trading Elton Brand for less than top dollar makes zero sense.

  1. Can Andre Iguodala play to this level when sharing the floor with a healthy Elton Brand?
  2. Will Elton Brand fully recover from the Achilles and shoulder injuries? If so, will he still be the player he was before them?
  3. Can Andre Miller co-exist with Brand and Iguodala?
  4. Can Tony DiLeo integrate Brand into the up-tempo style which has been so successful without him?
  5. Can Andre Iguodala perform to this level if he's playing a larger portion of his minutes at the two?
If you can tell me, right now, the answer to any of those questions definitively, you're a liar. We have yet to see a healthy Elton Brand on the court with this team under this coach. People are taking two games in which Brand came off the bench for 13 and 18 minutes respectively and drawing asinine conclusions from them. That's where these rumors came from.

Brand came back, the Sixers beat the Knicks (who have won 5/6 games, by the way, including a win against playoff-bound Atlanta last night, a win over Houston and a win over Phoenix), then lost to the New Orleans Hornets on the road and all hell broke loose. Suddenly, people knew Brand would never fit with this team based on 31 minutes of game action under Tony DiLeo. 31 minutes designed to do nothing more than build EB's wind back up for his eventual return to the starting lineup.

Raise your hand if you thought signing Elton Brand was a good move when the Sixers made it back in July. (Everyone here should have his hand in the air with the exception of Ian from Inside the Iggles. I think Dannie from Recliner GM may have said something as well, but I can't find the comment.) If you believed in the move then, you should be eager to finally see this team at full strength, under good leadership, now.

Over the next couple of weeks, as Brand gets back into game shape, all of the questions above will be answered, one way or the other. We need to have some patience. Let Brand get back into the starting lineup, let him get healthy, let DiLeo figure out how he's going to utilize him. I'm not asking for a boatload of patience, I'm just asking that we give this guy, this team and this coach a fair shake when they have all their parts on the court.

We haven't really seen it yet, and keep this in mind. In the limited sample size we do have of Elton Brand in uniform and Tony DiLeo as the head coach, the Sixers are 5-1.  That record means next to nothing, but it's still a much larger sample size than the 31 minutes which caused this panic in the first place.

So let's get the discussion kicked off on the right foot with a relevant question for you guys. What's a fair evaluation period for EB and DiLeo? 10 games in the starting lineup? 20? Or more accurately, do you think we're going to have enough time before the trading deadline to get enough of a look at this team with EB to decide if he's the right guy or not?
by Brian on Jan 29 2009
Tags: Basketball | Elton Brand | Sixers |