Brand leaning toward Clippers but Warriors' offer hefty
That's because the Golden State Warriors have responded to losing Davis to the Clippers by giving Brand a lucrative alternative to consider, urging him to relocate to Northern California by taking their five-year contract offer worth an estimated $90 million.
Strong indications persist that Brand will stay in L.A., largely because he explained his decision to opt out of the final year of his previous contract Monday by saying he was trying to give the Clippers some financial flexibility to strengthen the team around him. But Brand is apparently still considering Golden State's rich proposal.
It was initially expected that Brand might verbally commit to re-signing with the Clippers on Wednesday, one day after Davis told the Clippers he was accepting their five-year offer worth an estimated $65 million to go back home to Los Angeles. Brand instead flew to Washington to consult face-to-face with agent David Falk while Golden State was poised to give him a deal possibly $20 million richer than what the Clippers can offer.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that the most likely scenario remains Brand re-signing with L.A. and ultimately teaming with Davis no matter what the Warriors present. One source said that Brand, during negotiations on a contract extension in June, specifically told Clippers management that Davis was the player he hoped they'd pursue if he became available in free agency.
Yet sources also said late Wednesday that the magnitude of Golden State's offer forced Brand to give it a serious look and has Clippers officials privately concerned that their fantasy scenario could collapse, with no decision from Brand guaranteed before the July 4 holiday.
The saga began Monday when Brand unexpectedly walked away from next season's $16.4 million salary to become an unrestricted free agent. Brand immediately announced that his "intention is to stay" with the Clippers. Falk told ESPN.com that they wanted to "afford the Clippers roster flexibility over the next nine days" to solidify the team around Brand and eventually sign a contract -- presumably with a slight pay cut -- that would enable Brand to "finish his career with the Clippers."
Brand's decision to opt out, coupled with a similar move by high-scoring swingman Corey Maggette, suddenly created a scenario where L.A. could have more than $25 million for next season to split on Brand and Davis, provided that Brand was willing to re-sign at a discount. Davis quickly gave a verbal commitment to the Clippers when his own decision to opt out Monday -- forfeiting next season's $17.8 million with the Warriors -- failed to bring Golden State back to the negotiating table.
ESPN.com reported early Wednesday morning that the Warriors responded to Davis' decision to opt out by making a lucrative offer to Brand -- after a similarly lucrative offer to Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas -- as opposed to resuming talks with Davis. The sides were far apart on negotiations for a contract extension leading into free agency.
"I'm sure a lot of people were surprised yesterday when Baron opted out, but it was done with the idea that the Warriors would come back with something else," Davis' agent Todd Ramasar told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We still expected a discussion for Baron to remain a Warrior.
"He had a great run with the Warriors. That had become home for him. ... [But] this is about having the best team in place, especially at this point in his career. Baron just wants to win. He has a chance to do something special with the Clippers and come back home."
Free agents and teams were allowed to reach verbal agreements on new contracts as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, but no signings or trades can be finalized before July 9. That's when the NBA will lift its annual moratorium on roster moves which is needed to compute the salary cap for the following season.
Davis' promise to sign with the Clippers makes him by far the most marquee free-agent signing in the club's quarter-century in Los Angeles under the stewardship of owner Donald Sterling. The closest thing to a big-name free agent signed away from another team in the Sterling era is Cuttino Mobley, lured from Sacramento to Hollywood by a five-year deal worth $42 million in 2005.
There are a number of reasons Brand likely won't leave the Clippers. He has a longstanding friendship with Davis, Golden State's young roster now lacks a proven point guard and Falk said Monday that Brand has been inspired to make the talent around him a top priority given what happened in Boston this season with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
It was not immediately known whether the Clippers will be able to manufacture another move or two that enables them to increase their offer to Brand while keeping Davis at his established figures.
"He's sort of the face of that team and he wants to try to get it back to where they were a couple years ago when they almost got to the conference finals," Falk said Monday, adding that Brand became a free agent with the intent to "maximize his opportunity to be on a serious contender."Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
FREE AGENCY 2008
The NBA offseason has been busier than expected, thanks in part to Elton Brand's joining the 76ers. Keep up with the latest moves. Transactions
News• George's deal with Mavs made official
• Brown returns to New Orleans to back up Paul
• Veteran Finley re-signs with Spurs
• Nuggets re-sign Smith to multiyear deal
• Miles signs with champion Celtics
• George, Mavs agree to two-year deal
• Clips re-sign free-agent center Paul Davis
• Iguodala signs six-year deal with Sixers
• Sources: 76ers, Iguodala agree to multiyear deal
• Hawks match Grizzlies' $58M offer, retain Smith
• Heat's Williams reaches terms with Clippers
• Bobcats' Boykins signs European contract
• Restricted free agent Williams re-signs with 76ers
• Cavs shore up backcourt, sign ex-Grizzly Kinsey
• Arroyo signs with Maccabi Tel-Aviv
• Ex-Clipper draftee Skinner signs deal with team
• Bulls sign Deng to six-year extension
• Sources: Deng, Bulls on verge of deal
• Hawks sign ex-Magic G Evans to contract
• Sources: Okafor, Cats agree on new deal
• Nets lose Krstic to Moscow team
• Clippers sign swingman Davis from Heat
• Vujacic officially signs multiyear deal with Lakers
• Agent: Brown, Pistons agree to deal
• Warriors re-sign Biedrins to 6-year, $62M deal
• Sources: Biedrins, Warriors agree to 6-year deal
• Wolves agree to deal with Gomes
• Lakers, Vujacic agree to 3-year, $15 million deal
• Ellis inks $67 million deal to stay with Warriors
• Summer star Roberson signs with Knicks
• Andersen bolts Hornets to return to Denver
• Telfair re-signs with Timberwolves
• Childress leaves NBA for Greece
• Spurs re-sign Kurt Thomas
• Suns sign ex-Warrior Barnes to one-year deal
• Turiaf to play for Warriors
• Jazz, Williams agree to 4-year extension
• Sources: Clippers, Azubuike agree to offer sheet
• Bucks add veterans Allen, Lue
• Posey agrees to 4-year deal with Hornets
• Arenas signs six-year deal with Wiz
• Mason's hard work pays off in contract with Spurs
• Wright re-signs with Mavericks
• Clippers officially sign Davis to multiyear contract
• Family ties: Brent is 3rd Barry to play for Rockets
• Warriors ink forward Maggette to deal
• Magic sign, introduce ex-Warrior Pietrus
• Nets agree to terms with forwards Najera, Hayes
• Sixers give frontline big boost, sign Brand to deal
• Agent: Bucks to sign Bogut to $60M extension
• Diop rejoins Mavs on 5-year, $31M contract
• Gasol in Memphis: Marc, not Pau, signs contract
• Kings re-sign point guard Udrih to five-year deal
• Heat sign 3-point specialist Jones to 5-year deal
• Sources say Brand will sign with 76ers
• Sources: NBA cap at $58.68 million
• Sources: 76ers confident of getting Brand
• Sixers making run at Brand
• Hawks free agent Smith visits 76ers
• Brand opts out, and Clippers await decision
• Calderon reaches agreement on new Raps deal
• Wizards hang on to Jamison
• Reports: Arenas agrees to six-year contract
• For 2nd year in row, Cats, Okafor to discuss deal
• Artest not opting out of final year of deal
• Paul agrees on four-year, $68M deal
• Davis leaving Warriors for Clippers
• Free Agents: 2008 | 2009 and 2010
Analysis• Hollinger: Hornets pay heavily for Posey's ring
• Martin: Najera's 3-point skills help seal Nets deal
• Stein: Which teams in hot pursuit of free agents?
• Adande: Why Brand left the Clippers
• Broussard: Crushing blow for Clippers
• Arnovitz: Clipper Nation in world of hurt
• Adande: Brand's departure is business as usual
• Hollinger: Brand new Sixers are East challengers
• Hollinger: Five big questions on free agents
• Stein: Davis verbally agrees to go to Clippers
• Broussard: The Clippers' other free agent
• TrueHoop: What is Corey Maggette Worth?
Podcast• Stein on Elton Brand and Baron Davis
• Hollinger on players who may switch teams
• Broussard on the money given to Arenas
• Sheridan on Brand, Davis, Artest and Smith
Video• Bucher on how the Brand deal got done
• Bucher on the latest NBA news
• Arenas agrees to six-year extension