This team has me completely tied in knots. When I read rumors that Elton Brand is being shopped, I just don't know how to feel about the situation. Earlier in the week, I posited a couple of trades (one involving Brand) which could clear significant cap space this summer, and the logic for making the moves. The logic still holds, but it still just doesn't sit well.
I don't know what Eddie Jordan has against Elton Brand, but it has to be something personal. Jordan has made several thinly-veiled comments slamming Brand, early in the season he benched him for key minutes in a series of games, only extending him after Speights went down to injury. Brand's tweaked hamstring was an opportunity for Jordan to remove Brand from the starting lineup and cut his minutes drastically again. I could maybe understand this if Brand wasn't performing, or if he didn't fit a team need, but neither is the case.
The simple fact is the Sixers are just terrible defensively and their defensive rebounding is beyond atrocious. Why Eddie Jordan can't connect the dots that Elton Brand helps tremendously in both of these areas is beyond me. I'm not just talking about the Elton Brand from three years ago in Los Angeles, either, I'm talking about the EB we've seen since Speights went down and Jordan was forced to play him big minutes. Check out Brand's stat line from the past six games:
- 32 minutes per game
- 47% from the floor (a 1/9 dropped this significantly in the game when he injured his hammy.
- 86% from the line
- 5.4 free throw attempts/36 minutes
- 9.84 rebounds/36 minutes
- 1.67 steals/36 minutes
- 2.6 blocks/36 minutes
- 18 points/36 minutes
By every measure, Brand has been more than a passable rotation player. In fact, he's been much closer to the superstar he was for the Clippers than an over-the-hill PF deserving of a demotion to the bench. Yet on the bench he sits. I'm not even sure what Jordan's problem with Brand could possibly be. He's scoring efficiently, the team is hardly running the PO, and even when they are, Brand is getting a good deal of his points hitting jumpers from the elbow and crashing the boards for easy put-backs. I don't know if it's an alpha dog thing for Jordan, maybe he doesn't want any veterans taking control, or maybe he isn't the ideal player in Jordan's mind for his system (which makes you wonder how well he's going to handle Iverson), whatever the reason, he seems to hate the guy.
This puts the organization in a sticky situation, especially Ed Stefanski. If Stefanski's tenure with the Sixers came to an end today, he'd be judged basically on two moves: Clearing the cap space to sign Elton Brand and choosing Eddie Jordan from a pretty sizable group of available coaches. Trading Elton Brand is essentially admitting one of those moves was a big, big mistake. If you move him, while he's producing like this, you're admitting one of two things (a) You wish you had never signed him, even when he's producing, he doesn't fit this roster or (b) The coach you hand-picked, presumably because he was the man who could integrate Brand with the rest of the roster simply cannot do what he promised in that infamous chalk talk session. Or maybe there's a C, maybe Stefanski believes both decisions were mistakes at this point and he's making the one move he can to maybe make a bad situation a little better while still holding onto his job.
If you're the GM in this situation, you don't have a ton of options. If it was me, and I couldn't fire Jordan without losing my own job, I'd basically cut his nuts off. I'd tell him Brand is your starting power forward, you're going to drop this ridiculous system, on both ends of the floor, and that's that. If Stefanski doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to take a stand like that, then I guess you kind of have to shop Brand at this point. This is part of the larger problem, and really another reason why the Iverson trade makes no sense.
If you don't believe you can compete this season (you can't) or next (you can't if Jordan is your coach), then you really have to try to get Brand off the books. The odds of him being worth $18M+ in 2011-2012 are virtually nil. It just really bothers me that he's finally rounding into form and we aren't even getting a glimpse of what the team at full strength can do because of Eddie Jordan, and we most likely never will.
The Yahoo report says the Sixers were interested in Monta Ellis, but he appears to be off the table now. I still like the Bulls trade I thought up earlier in the week (Brad Miller and Tyrus Thomas), though I find that an extremely unlikely fit. Maybe there's something you can work out with Houston for Tracy McGrady's expiring contract, again, doubtful.
If trading Brand is the path you want to take, it can't help his value that he can't even crack the starting lineup on a 5-14 team that plays no defense, though. Bottom line, Stefanski needs to decide on a direction for this franchise while he still has a job, and he needs to crack the whip to get Jordan in line. Right now, they're like a rudderless ship being captained by an imbecile and they're suffering in every imaginable way.