Sixers' Elton Brand retires after 17 seasons
As much as Elton Brand enjoyed being the "old head" of the 76ers, he just didn't think it was right to play an 18th season.
Brand announced his retirement Thursday, ending a career that started when Chicago chose him with the first overall pick in the 1999 draft. His retirement is expected to become official on Saturday, a day after the squad's preseason finale at Miami.
"Me personally, playing, being out there in the mentoring role, it was great," Brand said. "I enjoyed it, but I really can't be out there giving my all after 17 years, helping the team, being in the right place on defense and giving the coaching staff the energy that they deserve from their players. So I thought it was time."
This was Brand's second go-around with the Sixers. He signed with the team on Jan. 4 to be a mentor for the young players.
In the offseason, the 37-year-old signed a contract for $984,310 for this season. He has made $165 million over his career. There was a thought that the Sixers would release Brand at the conclusion of the preseason and he would assume a front-office position.
Releasing him would free up a roster spot. His departure leaves the Sixers with 19 players. League rosters have to be trimmed to 15 players on Monday. Free-agent acquisitions Brandon Paul, Cat Barber, James Webb III, and Shawn Long are the likely candidates to be released. The Sixers signed them to partially guaranteed deals this summer so they could have their NBA Development League rights. They will play for the Delaware 87ers if they choose to go the D-League route.
The Sixers did approach Brand about accepting a front-office position. He hasn't ruled it out.
"I'll talk to coach [Brett Brown] and [team president] Bryan [Colangelo] and see if there's anything here I can do eventually," Brand said. "Talk to them about that and just weigh out my options. I have other businesses that I am associated with. So I'll be looking around."
Right now, he's just focused on getting away from the game. Brand plans to spend time with his family. He'll enjoy dropping his kids off and picking them up from school.
On Thursday, his Sixers teammates honored Brand by walking behind him and his family to the news conference. They gave him applause after his interview and posed for pictures with their mentor.
"Coach, he'll tell you, he wants me around a little bit longer, but it's my time to move on," Brand said. "They touched my life, learning a lot of things from these young guys as much as I can give them. So it was a great time with these guys. They're great on the court and off. They'll make this city proud."
The 6-foot-8, 265-pounder's previous stop before rejoining the Sixers was in Atlanta for two seasons. Brand previously played four seasons for the Sixers before he was waived on July 12, 2012.
He has averaged 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds during his career. Also, Brand was regarded as one of the best locker room guys in the league.
"In some ways, selfishly, I was glad to have to opportunity to be with him for a short period of time," Brown said. "He taught me. He helped me. I think our guys for, again, a short period of time, will tell stories about Elton and the things that he brought to the gym."