After a protracted period of silence and inaction during the NBA's free-agency period, the 76ers finally shook up their roster on Thursday, waiving forward Elton Brand by using their amnesty provision on the power forward and agreeing in principle to a one-year, $6 million deal with Nick Young.
Young will replace Lou Williams, who opted out of his contract last month.
Brand will be paid almost $18.2 million in salary from the Sixers, making him the ninth-highest paid player in the league in 2012-13. However, Brand's contract comes off the Sixers' salary cap and allows them the flexibility to perhaps add another player through free agency.
Brand becomes a free agent and can sign with a team that is under the salary cap by auction. The Dallas Mavericks, who failed in their bid to acquire Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams, are believed to be a leading contender for Brand. Other possible destinations include Charlotte, Houston, Cleveland, and Phoenix.
Signed as a free agent by the 76ers to a five-year deal worth almost $80 million in July 2008, Brand had played just eight games with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007-08 due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. But the Sixers gambled on Brand, the former No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft by the Chicago Bulls, after he averaged 24.7 points and 10.0 rebounds and 20.5 points and 9.3 rebounds, respectively, in two seasons with the Clippers before suffering his injury.
But Brand, 33, never approached those numbers with the Sixers. His best season was in 2010-11, when he averaged 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds. Last season was Brand's worst in Philadelphia. Playing just fewer than 29 minutes a game, Brand averaged 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. During his 13-year career, Brand has averaged 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Shortly after the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Brand, asked if he expected the Sixers to place amnesty on him, sounded as though he expected it.
"It's a business decision, and they have to do what's right for the organization," Brand said. "I understand that."
Earlier Friday, before severing ties with Brand, the Sixers also informed Williams, last season's leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, that they would not offer him a contract extension. Williams, drafted by the Sixers with the 45th overall pick in the 2005 draft, had hoped to receive a five-year extension from the Sixers.
"I was advised this morning that the Sixers decided to part ways with Lou," agent Leon Rose said. "Lou's goal was to remain a Sixer. We had communicated that to the Sixers and had commenced negotiations to keep Lou in a Sixers uniform for the foreseeable future. Both the result and the process are disappointing."
The Sixers decided that it was better to offer Young, 27, a one-year deal paying him $6 million rather than enter into a lengthy deal with Williams.
"Philly, I appreciate you all. Unfortunately I will not be coming back, as an organization they decided to move in a different direction," was how Williams addressed his situation on Twitter.
Young, who split last season in Washington and with the Clippers, became expendable earlier in the week when the Clippers signed free-agent guard Jamal Crawford. Young, taken in the 2007 draft four picks after Thaddeus Young, averaged a career-high 17.4 points for the Washington Wizards in the 2010-11 season. Last season, he averaged 14.2 points on 40.3 percent shooting.
Young has at times demonstrated an aversion to playing defense, not that Williams was a defensive stopper. And at times during his career in Washington, Young was seen as part of an immature core that the team eventually felt it needed to break up.
However, there is little question that he can score, and that is something that the Sixers definitely need.
While the addition of Young should be beneficial, the Sixers still need a point guard to back up Jrue Holiday. Also, Brand's departure leaves the Sixers slim at power forward, although they could platoon Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen.
They are about $7 million under the cap, and they could sign more players this summer.