The richest player on the 76ers’ payroll will run the floor at Wells Fargo Center for the first time this season tonight.
No, Andrew Bynum’s knees haven’t miraculously recovered. Elton Brand is making his lone appearance in Philadelphia this season as a member of the Mavericks.
After the Sixers used the amnesty clause on him this summer, Brand got his wish by being claimed by Dallas. He just didn’t get the role he anticipated.
Although Brand has started a dozen games with Dirk Nowitzki recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, he’s a bit player for the Mavs, averaging career lows in points (5.5 per game), rebounds (5.8) and minutes (22.0).
“I thought it’d be a different role, but I know what it is,” said Brand, who is being paid $16.1 million by the Sixers and $2.1 million by the Mavs this season. “It’s play defense, set picks, roll, things like that.”
The thing that Brand has arguably done the best throughout his 14-year career – scoring – is noticeably missing from his role description.
Brand has averaged 18.1 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor in his career. His scoring dipped in recent years, going as low as 11.0 points per game last year, but it’s fallen through the floor so far during his Dallas tenure.
"I feel good when we get a win," Brand said. "I don’t feel good when I get stats and we lose. I’m far past that in my career. I understand some guys around the league are like that. That’s not me right now. I could care less. We got the win, I feel great. Two shots, whatever, I feel great."
That’s a subject Brand has discussed with fellow veteran Shawn Marion, who is also scoring at a career-low clip (7.6 points per game).
“The offense isn’t set up for us,” Brand said. “It’s to use our speed at the point guard position and our shooting at the 2 guard and ride (Chris) Kaman a little bit when he’s hot. We accept that, but we have to find other ways to affect the game.”
The Mavs also need Brand to find a way to be more efficient offensively.
Brand might not get many shots, but he has to hit a higher percentage of the ones he takes. He’s shooting only 34.2 percent from the floor, the seventh-lowest percentage in the league among players with at least 75 attempts this season.
“There’s instances when he’s not wide-wide-open, so he feels a little pressure from the defense, and to me, that’s what creates hesitation at times,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But no, I don’t see him hesitating on open shots. But getting him wide-open has to be one of our team challenges.”
It’s been a challenging season so far for the former Sixer, to put it kindly.