EB opts out

This was a little surprising. Shortly before 6 pm I got a text message from Elton Brand saying he’d just opted out of his contract. I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. The sense I’d gotten from people within the organization is that the Clips were going to do everything they could to keep him and really didn’t want him to opt out.

But here’s how you should read this. Elton Brand wants to stay in Los Angeles. His life is here, he’s got a burgeoning career in show business, his wife is due to give birth in October, and he likes the core group of players the Clips have around.

But he doesn’t want to play out the final year of his contract with no guarantees. After last season’s freak Achilles’ tendon injury, he’s learned all to well how quickly things can happen to an NBA player.

He also would like to know which guys the team brings in next year. In other words, is Maggette coming back? Are the Clips going to bring in a free agent point guard, or trade for one? If the answer to either of those questions is “No,” he may look elsewhere and ask for a sign-and-trade.

By opting out, he gives himself more time to survey the situation and put pressure on the Clips for a long-term deal.

First day of the rest of their careers

That’s one way of looking at today’s deadline for both Corey Maggette and Elton Brand to opt out of the final year of their contracts. The Clippers have said repeatedly they expect both to be back, one way or the other, but you never know what another team might be willing to pay.

My sense, from talking to people in the organization, is that Brand is more likely to be back than Maggette. The only question is whether Brand is back for the final year of his contract, or a longer-term deal. Maggette was the team’s most reliable scoring option last season, after Brand, Shaun Livingston and Chris Kaman went down with injuries. But he’s always been a little miscast in LA. During their playoff run, remember, he was coming off the bench.

After the way Al Thornton developed last year, there is a sense that the Clippers could weather Maggette’s loss easier than it could Brand, who is still seen as the cornerstone of the franchise.

The problem for both guys though, is that nobody has cap-space this year. Philly and Memphis do, but Philly has Andre Iguodala and thus doesn’t need Maggette, and Memphis seems dead set on shedding big contracts. Still, I came across an interesting article tonight in the Orlando Sentinel suggesting the Magic as a popular landing spot for Maggette. His parents live there, he started his career there, and he’d fit well alongside Dwight Howard…

Brand and Maggette

With the draft over and June 30th around the corner, the Clippers very quickly turn their attention to resolving their free agent issues. Both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette can opt out of the final year of their contracts, and both are weighing those choices right now.

The expectation is that Maggette will opt out and Brand will not. But that’s just an expectation as of Friday at 230 p.m. The real issue is: there really aren’t many teams right now that have cap space to pay either of them this year. So opting out doesn’t really guarantee either guy more money.

A more realistic option, for both guys, would be to try and sign an extention with the Clippers.

I’ll keep you posted over the weekend…

Draft Rumors are flyin

Wow, everytime I turn on the TV or radio there’s a new breathless rumor about the Clippers making a trade today. When you hear these, keep in mind that most of these are more like possible scenarios teams have discussed.

I just got in touch with a person in the Clippers war room about a potential deal with Seattle, where the Clippers would trade the No. 7 pick and a future (lottery protected) first round pick to the Sonics for the No. 4 pick. My source said that “it hasn’t happened and probably won’t.” But confirmed it had been discussed.

Basically, the deal hinges on whether Miami and Minnesota pass on OJ Mayo. It only goes down if Mayo is still there at No. 4.