With Brand out of picture, Warriors reach verbal agreement with Maggette

Updated: July 9, 2008, 9:14 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

What next for the two teams that tried and failed to secure an agreement with this summer's No. 1 free agent?

The Golden State Warriors quietly pulled out of the Elton Brand chase Tuesday afternoon once they realized that Brand was going to Philadelphia if he was going anywhere, quickly moved on to new targets and reached a faster-than-expected verbal agreement to sign someone else from the Los Angeles Clippers: Corey Maggette.

Although Golden State still has a huge hole at point guard after also losing Baron Davis to the Clippers, sources said that the Warriors are also preparing to sign Los Angeles Lakers restricted free agent Ronny Turiaf to a four-year offer sheet in the $4 million-a-year range, which the Lakers would have seven days to match.

The Clippers, meanwhile, are expected to meet face-to-face as early as Wednesday with Atlanta Hawks restricted free agent Josh Smith, who was already in Los Angeles as of Tuesday. It's believed that a hard run at Smith and another restricted free agent -- Charlotte Bobcats center Emeka Okafor -- are at the top of L.A.'s priority list as it seeks to fill the holes created by the departures of Brand and Maggette. If the Clippers wind up signing Smith or Okafor to an offer sheet, as with Turiaf, their respective teams would have seven days to match.

NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com that Maggette decided against waiting to see if the Clippers would keep Brand or lose him to the 76ers -- with the latter theoretically creating an opportunity to stay with the Clippers -- to jump at a five-year offer from the Warriors worth a reported $50 million.

The Warriors, Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies are the only teams with salary-cap space to spend on free agents above the mid-level exception, which the league announced early Wednesday to be worth $5.585 million next season. Philadelphia was on that list as well before reaching a verbal agreement Tuesday to sign Brand away from the Clippers.

Maggette had drawn strong interest from several top contenders who are over the cap and only had the mid-level exception to offer -- including Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Orlando, Utah and most notably San Antonio -- but was intent on holding out to try to sign with a team that had cap room. Maggette averaged 22.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season for the Clippers, then opted out of a contract that would have paid him $7 million next season.

Golden State initially responded to the loss of Davis by offering Brand a five-year deal worth an estimated $90 million, but the Warriors never came as close to luring Brand away from L.A. as the Sixers. The Warriors also lost swingman Mickael Pietrus to Orlando on Tuesday and will now try to integrate Maggette with veterans Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington and two prized restricted free agents they expect to re-sign comfortably: Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

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Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics