By Ramona Shelburne
MANHATTAN BEACH– There were, at most, four players at the Clippers practice facility Tuesday who were operating with a real sense of confidence about their place on the team next season.
The rest of the guys were either rookies looking to earn a job with a good summer league season or veterans waiting on how the chips fall into place once Elton Brand decides where he’ll be playing basketball in the near future.
Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, those answers will start becoming a little more clear as the NBA releases the exact figure of next years salary cap, and the moratorium on free agent signings ends. At that point, Brand will have hard numbers from each of the teams –the Clippers, Warriors and 76ers– that have been throwing themselves at him since he opted out of his contract on June 30.
Those teams are as anxious as anyone for Brand’s decision.
“Until we get the Brand thing resolved, we don’t know where we stand,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday after working out the team’s summer league roster.
Once the Clippers know if Brand is returning, they can decide what to do about the rest of their free agents. Brand, Corey Maggette, Paul Davis, Shaun Livingston, Quinton Ross, Dan Dickau and Smush Parker are unrestricted free agents. Nick Fazekas and Marcus Williams are restricted free agents.
Davis was working out at the Clippers practice facility Tuesday afternoon, and Dunleavy said the team would like to bring him back, but that “it will depend on a lot of factors.”
The biggest of those factors is Brand.
The choice for Brand breaks down this way. The Warriors have offered him the most money (5 years, and $90 million), the Clippers a chance to stay in Los Angeles and play with Baron Davis but about $20 million less than Golden State, while the 76ers offer him a chance to play in the weaker Eastern Conference and be closer to his hometown of Peekskill, New York.
Tuesday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that the 76ers had agreed to trade swingman Rodney Carney and forward Calvin Booth to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a move to clear an additional $2 million of salary cap space for potential free agents. The 76ers are also interested in Atlanta forward Josh Smith, who is a restricted free agent, but did not give him an offer sheet when he visited last week. After Tuesday’s trade, Philadelphia would have close to $14 million in salary cap space.