Free-agent forward Elton Brand is hoping the Dallas Mavericks submit the winning bid for his services among eligible teams and claim him off of amnesty waivers, according to a source close to the 33-year-old. Brand was officially amnestied by the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at 5 p.m., starting the 48-hour claim process in which teams that are under the salary cap can submit blind bids to claim him. The team that submits the highest bid gets the player.
Ideally, Brand would want to clear waivers, according to the source. If no team submitted a claim, he would become an unrestricted free agent and would be able to sign with any team, including those over the cap, as long as they had cap exceptions. But the likelihood of no team under the cap making a bid is unlikely, given the dearth of quality big men available. Brand has slowed some in the past few years after suffering an Achilles’ injury, but his career averages of 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds are probably too good to pass up.
Going to Dallas “would be great,” the source said.
League sources indicated that at least three teams with room, the Cavaliers, Bucks and Raptors, would not be making bids on Brand. The Suns and Hornets were contemplating making a bid, according to other league sources. But teams are leery of making bids if Brand doesn’t want to play there. The Clippers had to do some fence-mending with guard Chauncey Billups after they claimed him off of waivers for a little more than $2 million last December, following his amnesty by the Knicks. Billups had wanted to clear amnesty waivers and sign with the Heat.
The Mavericks, the source close to Brand said, provide the best fit among the teams under the cap. They are well-coached and have an obvious superstar in Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks missed out on free-agent guard Deron Williams, their top target, who re-signed with the Nets. But Dallas made several moves to bolster its roster on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with free-agent center Chris Kaman on a one-year deal. (The Mavericks then opted to use the same amnesty provision the 76ers used on Brand on center Brendan Haywood, who is owed $27 million over the next three years plus an option year for an additional $10.5 million.)
Later Wednesday, the Mavericks agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Pacers that will send backup center Ian Mahinmi to Indiana for guards Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones. Collison could well be the Mavericks’ starter at the point next season after the team failed to come to terms with Williams or Steve Nash, who was traded from Phoenix to the Lakers. The Mavericks also had interest in restricted free agent guard Jeremy Lin, but Lin is expected to return to the Knicks after New York matches an offer sheet that is likely to be officially tendered by Houston in the next few days. Brand could back up both Nowitzki and Kaman, and play next to either.
Brand is also friends with Kaman, with whom he played with the Clippers for five seasons. The Clippers made the second round of the playoffs for the first time in three decades in 2006 with Brand and Kaman forming a strong frontcourt duo. But Brand left Los Angeles for Philadelphia in 2008 as a free agent after missing all but the last few games of the 2007-08 regular season rehabbing the Achilles’ tear.
Teams that are eligible have to submit minimum bids of $1.35 million, the minimum salary for a veteran like Brand with more than 10 years’ experience. Since he only has one year left on his contract he only can get the minimum for one year. Teams can create additional cap room if they’re interested in bidding by waiving non-guaranteed players on their roster, but can’t trade players to create the room. The winning bid will be subtracted from the $18.1 million the 76ers still owe Brand; the Sixers will pay the balance of what’s left. But they can spread their payments to Brand out over three years.