But the Clippers' confidence that delivering Davis would guarantee Brand's return -- even with the Warriors responding to Davis' defection by trying to tempt Brand with a five-year offer in the $90 million range -- gradually crumbled as Philadelphia made its late charge. The Sixers' shedding of two salaries just to set up a major free-agent signing is reminiscent of the gambit made by Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 1996, when then-Lakers personnel chief Jerry West sent Anthony Peeler and George Lynch to the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, creating the cap space that made it possible for L.A. to sign Shaquille O'Neal away from Orlando.
Getting Brand away from the Clippers might not quite have a Shaq-sized impact on the Sixers -- who will likely need more perimeter shooting, depth and experience as a group to challenge the league's elite -- but it's an undeniable coup for Philadelphia on a variety of levels. The move also continues a recent trend of offseason revival for teams in the East, after last summer's Rashard Lewis-to-Orlando signing and the trade acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen which helped the Boston Celtics win their first championship since 1986.
The Celtics certainly could not have returned to prominence without the deal for Garnett and Wolves front-office head Kevin McHale will get another assist here. Minnesota's willingness to take on Carney and Booth has helped another long-suffering traditional powerhouse from the Northeast fill a major void with a marquee name.
Although he was limited to only eight games last season after an Achilles tear, Brand is the proven power player and interior force Philadelphia clearly lacks on an otherwise promising roster that won many admirers as last season progressed. The Sixers extended Detroit to six games in a first-round series more competitive than many anticipated and will now be adding a two-time All-Star to veterans Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala, top youngsters Louis Williams and Thaddeus Young, and the considerable wingspan of Samuel Dalembert at center.
A move to the East comes with off-court benefits as well for Brand, sending the 29-year-old to a conference with far fewer title contenders and moving him closer to his East Coast-based family with Brand and his wife expecting their first child this fall.
Brand told ESPN.com on June 30 that his "intention is to stay" with the Clippers, while Falk spoke optimistically of Brand signing a deal to "finish his career with the Clippers" if the team could make another significant personnel acquisition or two. ESPN.com reported late last week that Davis was the player Brand specifically asked Clippers management to chase in June.
Yet sources were adamant late Tuesday that Davis, while undeniably disappointed by Brand's about-face, would not reconsider his promise to sign with L.A.'s star-crossed other team. Nor are the Clippers, sources said, planning to back away from the lucrative long-term commitment they've made to the former UCLA star, even though their A scenario was certainly signing Brand and Davis as a package deal to team with center Chris Kaman and youngsters Al Thornton and Eric Gordon.
"I thought that we made some moves that had the chance to get a great team on the court," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy told The Los Angeles Times, adding he hadn't had any contact Brand since last Thursday.
"I thought we had a deal with Baron." Dunleavy continued. "I thought we had a deal with Elton. It was a big commitment from our owner. I don't know what happened with Elton. It just didn't work out."