Dunleavy blaming Brand's agent for change of heart

Updated: July 12, 2008, 2:08 PM ET
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The Elton Brand saga didn't end Thursday with his introduction in Philadelphia.

It continued Thursday and Friday with Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and Brand's agent, David Falk, lobbing accusations at each other over how Brand's desire to remain a Clipper ended with him signing a five-year deal worth $79.795 million with the 76ers.

Dunleavy pointed the finger at Falk for Brand's change of heart, saying the Clippers had a tentative agreement with Brand -- a deal he said Falk was on board with -- that suddenly evaporated.

"It all changed, and I don't know the reason for it. David Falk had an incredible influence on [Brand], to poison him in some way against us," Dunleavy said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. "We never even got a call to understand there even was a problem, or why there was a problem. … It was uncharacteristic of EB."

Meanwhile, Falk, one of the NBA's best-known agents, questioned why the Clippers didn't put their best offer on the table first -- and why the team was dealing with him and his client at the same time.

"This is what I want to say emphatically: The process was flawed," Falk told ESPN.com's Marc Stein. "The team should not be having two simultaneous negotiations with a player and his agent. But that's the team's responsibility, not the player's. I'm not happy about it, I'm not gloating about it. I regret that the process was flawed, but I don't take any responsibility that the process was flawed."

"Mike and I have had a good friendship for 20 years," Falk said. "[But] Mike has acknowledged that he and Elton were having a private dialogue, which is illegal and a violation of the collective bargaining agreement for teams to do that when they know he has a registered agent. I wouldn't expect [Cleveland Cavaliers vice president] Danny Ferry, who's a former client, or [Denver Nuggets vice president] Rex Chapman, who's a former client, or [Charlotte Bobcats president] Michael Jordan to be negotiating behind my back. I think it's unethical. "

L.A. Stories

What led to Elton Brand's decision to leave the Clippers for Philly? And who's responsible? On Thursday, Brand's agent, David Falk, and Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy both appeared on Mason & Ireland on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles to present their sides of the story. Listen and decide for yourself: Falk | Dunleavy

On Friday, Brand appeared on 950 ESPN Philadelphia and told his side of the story. Listen

Brand, who said he wanted to remain in Los Angeles, didn't contradict Dunleavy's version of events about the tentative deal that unraveled, but said there were problems with the Clippers' proposed contract language.

"My intention was to be there with the L.A. Clippers. We were trying to make that work. But I hired a lawyer for a reason," Brand told 950 ESPN Philadelphia.

"We asked for some things, and it wasn't even more money. We asked for some things and they said no. That started a chain reaction."

Brand opted out of his contract with the Clippers, but it was believed he would re-sign with them when they made a deal for free-agent guard Baron Davis -- a move widely seen as making the Clippers a contender again in the Western Conference. And Davis said Brand, a friend of his since high school, led the charge in recruiting him to L.A.

Instead, Brand, 29, signed a five-year deal worth $79.795 million with the Sixers, turning that young team into a possible contender in the Eastern Conference -- and leaving the Clippers feeling jilted, despite still adding Davis.

Both Dunleavy and Falk appeared on Mason & Ireland on 710 ESPN Los Angeles on Thursday, each giving his side of the story. Dunleavy said that he had text messages from Brand confirming a deal to stay with the Clippers, but Falk said, "If there would have been a deal, Elton would be in L.A. right now."

On Thursday, as Brand was introduced as the newest member of the 76ers, Falk said Brand spurned the Clippers once he was offered a "take it or leave it" contract on June 30 -- a deal Falk said was worth $20 million less than what Brand signed for in Philadelphia.

Dunleavy challenged that characterization on Thursday, calling Falk's comments about team owner Donald Sterling "way off base" and questioning whether his own relationship with Brand was ever as close as he thought it was.

Elton Brand
Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesEx-Clipper Elton Brand said of Mike Dunleavy's avowed tentative deal with him, "We were trying to make that work. But I hired a lawyer for a reason."

"David Falk was asking for $120 million. And he's trying to scorch the earth and saying, if not next year, he'll get $150 million," Dunleavy said. "Well, Mr. Sterling's response was listen, Elton's coming off an Achilles [tendon] surgery and I know he's a great player, but I'm a little reluctant to put that kind of money on the board. Have him play out his contract next year and if he deserves that, I'm more than happy to pay him.

"And Elton Brand, who I was close to, and I thought much closer than I am, I guess, or I didn't know him as well as [Falk] certainly did, comes to me and says, 'Coach, I really want to be here and really what I want is $75 million … I'd be happy. And I'd like to go after some free agents."

Furthermore, Dunleavy said, Brand and Falk agreed to that strategy.

"David Falk agreed to the deal … We have a contract that he marked up, changed the language, did whatever he wanted to do to it," Dunleavy said. "He said if Baron is in, we're in. He [Brand] texted our players. I've seen messages [saying] 'Hey dude, we're in, me, you and BD,' OK?"

But Falk said Friday that the process was flawed from the beginning -- and the Clippers were at fault for that.

"Had the process not begun with private discussions between the team and the player that should have never taken place, [Brand would] probably be there today," Falk said. "Had they put [their best] offer on the table initially instead of only when another team forced their hand, I don't think we'd be having these discussions today. Had they told us they would use their competitive advantage by offering a sixth year that no other team could offer, there could have been a different outcome. That's the bottom line.

"They had enough cap room to pay Baron [Davis] what they were going to pay him and sign Elton for five years and $82 million or six years and a $100 million. To ask him to come down from $100 million to $70 million or $75 million, it's patently unrealistic for him to accept that. There isn't a player [of Brand's stature] who would accept that."

Falk said he was not disputing Dunleavy's account of his discussions with Brand. But they should not have taken place, he added.

"Whether Elton said to Mike that I'm happy at X or happy at Y, I'm not disputing that. If Mike says it happened, it happened. But it should have never happened because Mike should have never allowed those discussions to take place," Falk said.

On Friday, Brand said Dunleavy's comments about their relationship did not bother him.

"I'm not disappointed at all, because he didn't say anything contrary to what I'm saying," Brand said. "We were trying to make a deal. But I hired a lawyer to make sure the lawyer language is correct, which it wasn't."

ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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