The Sixers have signed forward Elton Brand in the hopes he can provide some veteran leadership to the young roster.
In a bit of a shocker, the Philadelphia 76ers announced on Monday that they has signed forward Elton Brand for a second stint with the team. To make room on the roster, the Sixers waived 20-year-old forward Christian Wood.
Brand previously played for the Sixers for a four-year span before being released in July of 2012 thanks to the amnesty clause. After stints with the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks, Brand announced his retirement in August of last year, but ultimately decided to return to the hardwood after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski convinced him he still had something left to give.
Despite the fact Brand has career averages of 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during his 16 seasons as a pro, he is not joining the Sixers to help the team win more games. Brand is being brought in to provide some much needed veteran leadership to the team, specifically Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor.
Okafor in particular looks to be in desperate need of some mentoring. After several incidents since the start of the season, including fights, speeding and having a gun drawn on him, the 20-year old center looks like he could use some guidance, which Brand seems more than willing to provide.
In writing about his decision to return to basketball for Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron, Brand says that he is not here to babysit Okafor, but to simply pay it forward.
“Now, here in Philadelphia, my adopted hometown, I’m excited to have a chance to do things differently — be a positive influence and help the organization get back on track.
“I’m not coming here to hold Jahlil’s hand — or anyone else’s, for that matter — because that’s not what he needs. But I do believe my experience and wisdom can benefit him and my other young teammates. It’s about communicating with them like men, starting to grow together, and — hopefully, eventually — winning some ballgames. That’s what Sam Hinkie and I talked about when he approached me about joining the team, and what has me so excited about this opportunity.”
In all honesty, this is something that should have happened ages ago.
The Sixers have the youngest roster in all of the NBA and very few players with any real experience. It was only a matter of time before a rookie went off the rails and started to do some incredibly stupid things, such as what Okafor has done. If a veteran had been on the roster since the start of the season, odds are Okafor would not have had to be suspended for two games and maybe, just maybe, the Sixers would have another win or two under their belts.
Call it the Jerry Colangelo Effect, call it Sam Hinkie finally realizing that tanking has a steep price that is being paid by the young players on his team, but regardless this is a very good sign for the future of this Sixers organization.
It just makes me wish I had gone to the Wells Fargo Center merchandise blowout sale last August. I could have picked up an Elton Brand jersey for next to nothing.