Brand opting out, hopes to work out deal with Clippers

Updated: July 1, 2008, 9:53 AM ET
By J.A. Adande | ESPN.com

Elton Brand said on Monday that he is opting out of the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, but he hopes to re-sign with the team.

"We're opting out," Brand said. "It definitely doesn't mean I'm leaving the Clippers. We're trying to work it out. My intention is to stay."

Brand is forgoing the $16.4 million on the last year of his deal, a final decision he made at Monday's deadline to notify the team and the league. Earlier in the day, teammate Corey Maggette filed the paperwork to opt out of his contract, the Los Angeles Times reported, creating potentially $10 million of salary-cap space if the Clippers do not re-sign him.

"We have been notified by Elton Brand and Corey Maggette of each player's decision to opt out of his respective contract," Clippers president Andy Roeser said Monday in a statement. "On Monday night, when NBA rules permit, we will be aggressive in contacting them to address our interest in having them remain with the Clippers. We will also be active in contacting other free agents in whom we have interest."

Brand's agent, David Falk, said the forward wants to see the Clippers sign a quality free agent and try to assemble a winning team in Los Angeles.

"It preserves options to make the team better," Falk said. "Clearly, if Elton decided he wanted to simply max out the dollars, he would have stayed in the deal, had a monster year, and a lot more teams will have cap room next year."

A new name was added to the free-agent list on Monday. Baron Davis surprisingly opted out of the final year of his contract with the Golden State Warriors, passing up $17.8 million.

NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Clippers will indeed take a run at Davis.

Brand, though, now has the right to leave the Clippers without compensation. Yet it's more likely that he'll push for a sign-and-trade to a new team if he can't negotiate a new long-term deal to his liking with L.A, which Falk insists is Brand's preferred scenario.

Brand
Brand

Memphis and Philadelphia are the only teams with the requisite salary-cap space this summer to make sufficiently lucrative offers to sign Brand away from the Clippers outright. Even the Sixers -- despite their publicly stated interest in acquiring a power player -- might not have enough with an estimated $12.4 million to offer for a first-year salary.

It's believed that the Miami Heat will make another hard pitch to land Brand via trade. The contract Brand is vacating was originally signed with Miami when the 29-year-old power forward was a restricted free agent in the summer of 2003, with the Clippers matching that six-year, $82 million deal.

Falk said a visit to Boston for Game 2 of the NBA Finals influenced Brand's decision to opt out.

"He watched what happened when a few stars get together and agree to have a communal effort," Falk said. "He said 'That's what I'd like to accomplish in my career.'"

Of course, it helps to trade for a couple of All-Stars, as the Celtics did when they acquired Ray Allen and then Kevin Garnett. The Clippers have a solid young frontcourt in Brand, center Chris Kaman and Al Thornton, who is coming off a promising rookie season. Guard Cuttino Mobley has two seasons remaining on his contract, and the Clippers selected Indiana guard Eric Gordon with No. 7 pick in the draft last week.

Since Shaun Livingston's devastating knee injury last season, point guard has been the Clippers' most unsettled position. Beno Udrih of the Sacramento Kings is an unrestricted free agent and a potential target.

Brand injured his knee last summer and appeared in only eight games near the end of the 2007-08 season, averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds. The best season in his nine-year career came in 2005-06, when he averaged 24.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, shot 53 percent and led the franchise into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since it played in Buffalo in 1976.

On Monday, Brand sounded interested in staying in Los Angeles. He has branched out into film production (his first movie, "Rescue Dawn," was released last year) and his wife is expecting a son in October.

"Right now, it's just trying to solidify my future and work things out with the Clippers," Brand said. "I've got a lot of going on."

J.A. Adande is an ESPN.com senior writer and the author of "The Best Los Angeles Sports Arguments." Click here to e-mail J.A. ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein contributed to this report.